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Interview with Claude Marshall, March 29, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Claude Marshall, March 29, 2003
March 29, 2003
Interview with retired Chaplain Claude Marshall.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Marshall, Claude Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  3/29/2003 Series:  Military Chaplains Length  55 minutes


Zarbock: Good morning. My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff person of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. We’re in the library of UNCW and today’s date is the 29th of March in the year 2003. Our interviewee today is Pastor Claude Marshall.

Zarbock: I’m going to start off by asking the usual questions. Pastor, how did you get into the ministry and what events led you into the military as a military chaplain?

Marshall: I think my mother probably had a great influence on that. She was a very dedicated Christian and her prayers and her influence I think had a great influence on my life. We lived outside the Marine base at Camp Lejeune and we had a chapel there in the community. My mother went to some of the services. She didn't go that regularly. I got into football and the football coach was a Navy Chaplain.

Zarbock: Now this was high school?

Marshall: Yes, this was in high school, 7th or 8th grade. His name was Salzer I believe. I think he was Lutheran. He had a son also who was in high school there with us. He had a real influence on me. They kind of made a joke that if you wanted to play football for the coach, you’d better go to the services , and I did go. It was interesting and inspiring.

Then they had a little program there about joining church, denominations and so forth. Not a whole lot about just being a Christian had come up at that time. I asked him about it and he said “Well, how about your parents, what is their denominations?” My parents were both Baptists so he suggested I go to the nearest Baptist church in Jacksonville, which was in Jacksonville 5 miles away, you know, and talk with them about joining the church.

My mom baby sat for a dentist in our community. His name was Herbert Smith and his wife, Margaret. They had a child and my mom did a lot of babysitting for them. They had not too far back had just become Christians and they were very active in the church and so forth. I talked with them a little, especially his wife. I told her what I was planning to do and she, you know, talked with me about really making a profession of faith and giving my life to Christ.

Zarbock: How old were you at that time?

Marshall: I probably was about 15 or 16.

Zarbock: And the year is?

Marshall: I’m not sure of the year. I was born in 1933 and then as I say I was 15 so what would that be?

Zarbock: About ’48. Anyway it was after World War II had finished.

Marshall: Yes, it was, it was after the war. I forgot what was happening in the Pacific at that time. I know during that time, I can remember a lot of the Marines, the trains hauling the guys out like they’ve been doing here with trucks and so forth for this battle that we’re facing now in Iraq.

But anyway they had a real profound influence on me. I talked with the pastor. When I was baptized, I really knew what I was getting into, what I was doing I think. Some of the people there, one of the young ladies that was an influence in my life also and influential in my life, she was the organist at the church, First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, about my same age.

Also she was going to this program, Youth for Christ, which is a pretty fundamental group and I got active in that. Sometime during that period of time, I just felt this urging call, some might say, to go into the ministry and certainly the ministers that were there from the time I was going to the church and different people influenced my life. Then the decision, I’d gotten through high school, was where was I going to college.

Zarbock: It was a given that you were going to college?

Marshall: Yes, I knew I needed college. I had no question about that. I certainly had enough education at that time to know that it was important to get an education. My parents encouraged me. Some of these folks from these groups were from Bob Jones University. They’d come and speak for Youth for Christ and so forth in Greenville, South Carolina.

So I went there. The pastor at that time was not for that. He wanted me to go to a Baptist School, Wake Forest or whatever. So I went to Bob Jones. It probably was good for me that first year because all you could do there was study. I mean there’s not much dating at that time. I don’t even think they would let a young girl, a freshman, to date. Although I did kind of date a young lady there whose father was a Professor there at Bob Jones. I was getting quite enamored with her.

Anyway when I got back after that, I decided I was not going back to Bob Jones. It was just a little bit too far out for me.

Zarbock: When you say far out, you mean too conservative?

Marshall: Yes, they were too conservative.

Zarbock: Controlling?

Marshall: Yes, some of both. They had a big argument between the Vice-President and the President so I got into the middle of that, one of those things you know, and I just decided hey, these are supposed to be Christians loving each other and here they are ready to put each other in jail (laughter)! So I thought maybe that was not…it helped me. I couldn’t do anything as I said but study there , so I got a pretty good background that year. Then talking with my pastor, he of course urged me. I had some friends who were going to Wake Forest so I decided to go to Wake Forest.

That was an interesting experience. Folks helped me all they could, but I was working in the cafeteria and different places. During the summer, I’d work at the Marine Base. They had a lot of construction going on so that was an interesting time. I met some good friends there. During that time, as I say, I was ordained. Some of my friends and folks wanted to get married and to perform a wedding ceremony, I guess it’s still law, you have to be ordained so I was ordained.

Zarbock: In the Baptist church?

Marshall: In the Baptist church. This little church outside of Jacksonville, Catherine Lake, about a half hour out of Jacksonville. It’s a little country church. A friend of mine who’d also gone to Wake Forest was a ministry student and he had two or three little country churches. He thought he had too much going so he asked me would I be interested in working with this little Baptist Church? I said “ sure!”

So I went out and met the people and they, unfortunately , probably said ” Yes, we’ll have that young man.” They taught me a lot more, I’m sure, than I did them, love and caring. I guess I was there about three years.

Zarbock: You were a college student still?

Marshall: At this time, I had been married and we had one child at that time. Of course my wife was teaching at that time and we’d go back and forth. After college, I went to seminary which took over the Old Campus at Wake Forest. I graduated the last class at the old Wake Forest town, community.

Zarbock: What year was that sir?

Marshall: Oh, don’t ask me. I can’t remember. That was an interesting time, seminary. Of course I had this church. Then I was called to a…another friend of mine who was pastor of a church over in Wallace, good size church over there, they had started a mission and he was looking for someone to take that mission in hand. So I went over and met with the folks and they invited me to come and called me to come and be their pastor there.

I was there during my seminary days. Of course seminary was four days. You didn't go on Monday. You started Tuesday and got out Friday. Then we’d make the drive. My wife lived up there and taught up there during the week.

Zarbock: I’m sure the small church was enthusiastic about your arrival, but possibly didn't supply an awful lot of money.

Marshall: No, it didn't, not very much at all. Of course I was away during the week, but I tried to visit and so forth so I was there on the weekend. It was just a humble experience for me and for them. The church is still going quite well and I have some good friends out there.

Then I guess about the 2nd or 3rd year in seminary, this larger church over past Wallace, Herald Stores is the Community over there. It was a larger church, larger community. The folks there were a lot of turkey farmers back in that time and they still are in that area. They raise a lot of turkeys over there. So I was called over there.

During that time I was thinking the thing about the chaplaincy being in the Navy with three brothers being in the Navy and growing up in a Marine environment, a military environment, I think I was just kind of influenced to do that. I decided, talked it over with my wife, and she agreed. Neither she nor I really knew the implications of that, but we made application and we were accepted.

I was accepted into the Chaplaincy Program. The Chaplain School, I went into that in June of 1961 and that was in Newport, Rhode Island. At that time I think I had all four children. We went up to Newport, Rhode Island and finally found, with the help of some of the folks there, found a place.

Zarbock: Wasn’t that a little bit of a culture shock?

Marshall: It was indeed although you know I was pretty well wrapped up in my stuff, the Chaplain School. It was an interesting experience.

Zarbock: How long was Chaplain School?

Marshall: It was just about six weeks. They tried to teach us to march. They had some Marine guards there and they said we were the worst people they had ever had in all their lives. Anyway it was interesting. We finally got to where we could put one foot in front of the other without tripping. That was an interesting time.

Then from there my first assignment was down in Key West, Florida. I went all the way from Newport, Rhode Island to Key West. I was there approximately a year and then from there I got my assignment to sea duty, Con DesRon 22 out of Norfolk, Virginia. That is the time when President Kennedy said he wanted those missiles out of Cuba. We had gone in the Yard and I just reported a few weeks before they decided they were going in the Yard. We’d just gotten in and we got the order to throw it back together and get down to Quantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Zarbock: What kind of ship were you on?

Marshall: It was a destroyer.

Zarbock: Now a destroyer normally doesn’t carry a chaplain, does it?

Marshall: They have a squadron. You were assigned to a squadron of ships. I think there were six or seven ships attached to the …

Zarbock: So you’re back to being a circuit rider again.

Marshall: So I’m back to being a circuit rider again and that was an interesting experience. We didn't really know all the stuff that was going on there. They had a film on television. I think I made a copy of it. The most interesting experience about that was the Captain was tracking some submarines. Our primary job was ASW submarine tracking.

Zarbock: ASW stands for Anti-Submarine Warfare?

Marshall: Yes and we’d got this contact and we’d been tracking this contact for a day and a half. The American and allied subs had some way of letting the ship know that they were American or ally. But this character would not give anything so the Captain was really…the Exec Officer told me to go to the Bridge with him. The Captain was up there and he was going to depth charge this contact they had because they’d been tracking it back and forth.

Of course I didn't say anything, but just prayed real hard. The Executive Officer was saying, “Captain, you just cannot do that”. Thank goodness. If he had depth charged that thing and even if it hadn’t been a … this thing on this news report that came out about a month ago said that Khrushchev had sent these three attack submarines and they had these new torpedoes that were atomic warheads and he sent them down there because he could see the thing building up with Kennedy about the missiles in Cuba.

He gave them carte- blanc to not have to get any information from anyone. If they were molested or they saw contact, they could fire those atomic warhead weapons. I never knew that, you know. All this stuff is coming out now. If we had dropped that depth charge, probably it was one of those things. What would have happened then because they had the missiles still over there.

Zarbock: But the Executive Officer really dissuaded the Captain?

Marshall: He did, but I’ll tell you, I was really saying some real prayers at that time. That was a close call. So that was probably one of my most…

Zarbock: Let me probe for the specifics. The Executive Officer came to you, found you on the ship and brought you up.

Marshall: He said, “Please go to the bridge with me. There’s a situation here that I can’t handle too well”. I didn't say anything, but I certainly was there when the Executive Officer just pleaded with the Captain,” We just cannot do this” … and so and so and so.

Zarbock: To my primitive way of thinking, I guess that illustrates compassionate appearance, moral strength.

Marshall: I certainly believe there was some power there. Of course, I didn't know that they had these Special Task submarines there at that time.

Zarbock: But on its best day, a submarine is a nasty…

Marshall: Oh yes indeed! It would not have been…it well could have been a big, big thing there. Often we alternated between sea duty and shore duty.

Zarbock: I’m sorry, one last question. What was your relationship with the Captain of that particular Destroyer? Did he see you as a significant person or just somebody he had to put up with?

Marshall: I think that he realized, he certainly had had chaplains before and I think he realized it was a help. He would attend services from time to time. He was a pleasant enough guy. He was a Mustang, you know, a guy that came in from the military ranks. That was an interesting time.

Zarbock: Well I’m sorry , I interrupted you.

Marshall: But anyway, the other experience that was quite interesting. My last sea duty I was on a nuclear powered cruiser, the Bainbridge out of San Diego. Most of my military experience was out of the East Coast and the Mediterranean. That was an interesting thing. As a chaplain we were expected ,or were asked ,to line up some interesting tours as we went. Of course the majority of the guys never got out of the bars and so forth.

A lot of them, when we were in Italy especially, we were in Naples so I arranged some tours going to Rome and that was really an experience. I got to the Catacombs and St. Peter’s and hope to be able to go back again when I got more time and probably more sense than I did then. But it was interesting. We met some folks who were from Switzerland and they invited me to come over to Bern and visit them so I did that. Going from Italy to Switzerland was like going from night to day.

Zarbock: Why did you say that? What were the differences?

Marshall: Well the cleanliness and orderliness things in Switzerland. I mean, there are beautiful places, I’m not putting that down, but everything in Switzerland is just like clockwork, all ordered and so forth. We went up to the Matahorn and up in those areas. I think there was some snow there. Again I’d like to go back. I’ve stayed in some communication.

Probably it’s my fault, for the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve not corresponded with these folks. I want to do that. I want to pick that up. That’s one of the joys of meeting people of different nationalities. By in large, the people I met were always friendly and would go out of their way to help you.

Zarbock: Meanwhile while you’re on sea duty, your wife and children are located where?

Marshall: Certainly around the Norfolk area, they would be there in that area. Of course when we were on the west coast, I had a tour with the Marines at Pendleton and also I had been in Lejeune, I had a tour there with the 2nd Marine Division. I’m kind of following them as they’re going across up to Baghdad.

Anyway fine, fine people. A lot of them in Vietnam that I’d known didn't come back. Families, it’s hard. You can be called out at any time. When you’re on sea duty sometime you get the mail and sometimes you don’t. You’re away six, seven months and it’s very different especially with children and so forth. I can understand the hardships and the pressure. Boy oh boy , and my wife was teaching also.

Getting back to this duty on the West Coast, we decided to buy a place when I was at Pendleton. We bought a place in Carlsbad and that’s a beautiful area up there. It’s about 35 miles North of San Diego. Then I got sea duty after that, after being at Pendleton with the Marines. I got sea duty on this new cruiser out of San Diego and that was an interesting experience, hearing those reactors humming all day and all night out there.

They claim that you could go down and the water coming out of the reactor you could actually drink. I never tried to drink any of it, but they say it’s not contaminated, but you knew those things were clicking along all the time.

Zarbock: You said duty with the Marines. Did you ask for that , or does it just come down the chute and they say, “ It’s your turn, you go on over there”?

Marshall: It’s just your turn, it surely is.

Zarbock: Same with sea duty.

Marshall: Yes, yes. When there’s a need, availability, they try to give you a certain time of year or eight months or something, but it’s just kind of a need of the Service as it always is, you know. You never really knew. One of the interesting programs, well in fact when I retired, I was attached to the Drug Rehab Center. That’s where I really got into working with people with drug and alcohol problems at the Miramar in San Diego. That was an interesting experience.

Working with these people and some of them were doctors who had gotten caught up in stuff and officers. The majority of them were enlisted people, you know, but there were quite a few officers, like doctors who were going through that. That was a humbling experience. As I say, I’ve been very interested in, you know, my family, my dad and my brother having a problem with alcohol, I was always interested in that. I got into Al-Anon working with those folks quite a bit. That was an interesting experience.

My dear wife, she had some emotional problems. Thank goodness we had the military, the doctors and so forth, but she got hooked on the medications. From that medication to alcohol. Having to go to sea duty with that handicap was hard, hard sometimes. But she taught school most of that time also. A lot of times, she was in hospitalization and so forth.

One thing about that, I thought my goodness, here I am a servant of the Lord and a chaplain and so forth and why should I have this terrible handicap. The wonderful answer came back, “ Why not, why not?” That was very humbling and helpful.

Zarbock: You’re not exempt from the problems of the world.

Marshall: Indeed, indeed, go out and be one of them, you are one of them. So that was very good and I met some wonderful recovering people and wonderful people who didn't recover. One of the most interesting tours was on the Bainbridge. We went to Japan first and Korea and then we got orders to go up to the Sea of Okhotsk, which is Russia. We got up there and they sent some of these Backfire bombers, planes out and they kind of followed us around. They sent these two real slick cruisers out that kind of worked us around, just came by very close. Of course we had missiles on our ship and so forth.

Zarbock: But you’re in International Waters?

Marshall: We’re in International Waters, but they don’t like, at that time certainly they didn't like Americans being up there.

Zarbock: What year was that?

Marshall: Golly, I’d have to look back. It was toward the…it was probably about ’79 or ’80 cause my last tour was two years at the Drug Rehab there in San Diego. So it must have been about ’78 or ’79, but that was an interesting experience. That’s about it. Again, I loved it one sense and in another way I felt that I could have probably helped the family better if I had been there like the average person, 9-5 job or 8-5 whatever. The family has done real well. I’ve remarried.

My wife is actually, my former wife is actually living here in Wilmington now. She continues to recover. It’s been a challenging experience for me, a blessing.

Zarbock: How would you characterize the differences between the Marines and the shipboard sailors when it comes to the professional demands placed upon you? What was different from the Navy and Marines? You’re a chaplain in both places, but you’ve got a different population of people.

Marshall: The Marines, I was attached to an Air Squadron out at Cherry Point and one of my tasks was of course as a chaplain, when they had a crash, lost a pilot, was to go to the home. That was very hard. You had a military officer from his Group that also went with me. That was a very hard, hard thing. Hard on me and hard on the officer that went and everyone.

Of course they live with that type of thing knowing that it can happen, but you know it’s not going to happen to my husband, not going to happen on my watch. I remember this one family we went to. They lived on the Base there and we did too. We pulled up. They assign you a car. It’s a black sedan and they know what’s happening when a black sedan stops in front of the house. We went to the door and knocked on it. She came to the door and saw me standing there and said, “No, no, it’s not me”. I said we just wanted to share with her and talk with you if we may. “No, you can’t come in” and finally she broke down. That was hard, hard times.

Zarbock: Sort of a mystical thing, if you don’t come in, it didn't happen.

Marshall: I would say we’re so sorry that your husband didn't make it back today and we had these Harriers, these things that can go up vertical and take off horizontal. I guess they were being made in England or somewhere in Europe. They were just beginning to pick them up and boy I think we lost four that first year that I was attached there. Especially when they were coming in supposedly, it was hard and sometimes they’d flip over. That was an awful hard time.

Zarbock: How long would you stay with the family in this grief situation?

Marshall: We would always try to get some other wife who knew them to come in right away. We would stay there. Of course there’s just a lot of grief and oftentimes we’d call the Medical Officer, the doctor, to be along also. We’d try to call on them again. If they wanted a service there or if they wanted…I was called. In fact while I was there at Cherry Point, a young man who was working with me, a guy who was kind of not doing too well, they would oftentimes assign him as a chaplain’s aide.

He could type a little bit, this and that. It was an interesting thing. This was a neat guy, just a typical kid. His folks were from California and he and his buddies went to the nearest town. They often would go to New Bern. They were coming back late one morning and I think they hitchhiked and got about two-thirds of the way there and then they were walking, three of them walking. They were playing walking down the middle of the road.

This is 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning playing Chicken. Who could stay up there. This guy didn't jump fast enough and he was hit and killed. His mother, she knew I worked with him. That was a hard experience too. They became real good friends, this lady and her husband. They lived right in L.A. at that time and then they moved to Seattle. Years later I was attached…that was when I was on the Bainbridge. The Bainbridge pulled into Bremerton for upkeep and they invited me over with some of the other guys and we would go have dinner with them. They showed us all around Seattle and Bremerton. Those are hard experiences.

Zarbock: What about the Navy experiences?

Marshall: I loved the Navy. I love the sea. My dad grew up on it, Lejeune. When I was coming up, each weekend, I kind of dreaded it because he had bought an old boat, a fishing boat and we were out there on the river and the sound and ocean every weekend with nets and had a shrimp trough and so forth. My buddies were raising sand, you know, running around, this and that, and I was out there. Looking back, those were probably some of the best times I ever had.

I really got to know him well. That was a joy, a blessing. Things just kind of happen. I know that the good Lord has been with me. I’ve had some hard times, but He’s blessed me so much. This dear wife I have now, her husband was a Professor here at UNCW in the History Department. This was 1981, 82. They had always liked to travel, his family and he decided to open a little travel agency off of Market Street.

It was just getting off the ground. I think it had only been going less than a year. He’d gone down on a Saturday evening to check the computers to see how things were going, had three kids, so he went down. They got up the next morning to go to church and he was not around. He was not there. So she got two of the kids, two of the older ones to drive down with her. It was a little place they had right near the YMCA there on Market Street.

They drove in the yard and the car was there and the door was ajar. They went in. It was unlocked. He was spread eagle in the middle of the floor. He’d been stabbed 32 times and his throat was cut. That was a hard time for her and the family.

Zarbock: Was the murderer ever apprehended?

Marshall: No, they think it was some druggie that came in. So that was hard. She had the three sons. I of course knew her and knew him. I didn't know him very well, but I knew her because I worked with her quite a bit with the families that she was working with. The older son had gone in the Navy. He graduated from high school and was trying to find himself. They finally said hey, find a job or go into the military. His daddy had done a tour in the Navy.

So he went in the Navy and was accepted in the NUKE program and was guaranteed a college education in the officer program. He came home and I of course met him. Of course his dad had died about that time also. I met him, but when he went back, he was kind of sickly or something and not doing too well. His mother said,” When you get back to San Diego, check in and see.” They found he was a diabetic and discharged him, but they gave him enough to get his education.

He went a year or two here and transferred to Carolina and got a Degree in Journalism and was hired by a newspaper up in Winston-Salem. Doing very well. But he had to take that insulin every day or so. Just like young kids, drinking a lot of beer and partying and everything,” nothing’s going to happen to me,” you know, “I don’t need all this stuff.” He would have some comas from time to time. Driving back down here to see us from Winston-Salem, he got pulled over several times because he was kind of drowsy and running off the road.

They kept telling him what to do and he had nurses and so forth, “Hey you’ve got to stay with that program!” He had a coma and died. So that lady has had some tough times, but she’s a gem and just a strength to me and a blessing. So , brother that’s about it. We are active in the church. As I say, I have shared with folks. They ask me to do the prayers at the Lion’s program and I work quite a bit now with the handicapped folks. They have that Soup Kitchen at the Baptist Church.

I drive on Fridays for the people that are homeless to get them into the work place. People come in for work and that’s enjoyable. So that’s about where I am. Just thankful that I could share.

Zarbock: How many years did you spend in the military?

Marshall: I spent 21 years on active duty.

Zarbock: During that period of time, can you recall a situation or was there ever a situation in which you were either ordered or strongly suggested that you do something that was in violation of your personal ethic and belief systems?

Marshall: No, not really. I don’t believe so. Most of the officers who I was associated with, had the privilege of serving with, certainly backed me 100%. Some of them knew the situation I had at home and they certainly helped me there. Sometimes I had to take leave. You know, my wife would be in the hospital or something and they knew the situation. I can’t recall any time that I was asked to do something that was against my ethics or my faith.

By in large they attended service when they weren’t on the Bridge. We had a service, you know, sometimes we’d have 10, sometimes we’d have 25 or 30. Most of the time they would ask that I have Taps at night, to have a prayer. I think they really appreciated having a person of faith on board.

Zarbock: As chaplain on a ship and you were the sole Chaplain, well you had a mixed bag of faith groups.

Marshall: Yes indeed.

Zarbock: As chaplain you serviced any faith group?

Marshall: Right, any faith group, indeed. Some of the men of course, they have deaths at home and they’d be far at sea or they’d have breakups and divorces. Often times I was called upon to have marriage ceremonies for them, you know, that was always a joy to share. Sometimes we’d have them on the ship. If there was a place where there was a chapel, we’d have it there and that was always a joy. I had some real good friends, enlisted and officers.

Zarbock: For the Catholic population, would you say Mass?

Marshall: No, we would not, although…on the larger ships, carriers, they would have oftentimes a Catholic priest on there also as with a Protestant minister. But on the smaller ships like ours, they did not have that. But they did have Catholic lay leaders and that type of folk who could have services and so forth. Oftentimes they would certainly attend my service. I made an interdenominational service.

Zarbock: There are now Muslim Chaplains in the military. Did you have any Muslims?

Marshall: No, I did not. I’d heard of them and when we were in port, we would have a chaplain’s meeting every two or three times a month and there were a few Muslim around San Diego who were coming in at that time while I was still on active duty. I did not have any serve with me at that time.

Zarbock: Any of the Jewish faith?

Marshall: Again on the larger ships ,sometimes or carriers, they would have Jewish and then they would have Jewish lay leaders who were on the smaller ships. They did that. I never knew a Jewish chaplain. Now they may at this time, but at that time I don’t recall a Jewish chaplain that was on sea duty. There may have been and I just didn't run into it.

Zarbock: This broad spectrum of obligations that fall to a chaplain, I’ve become more and more acquainted with the notion that shipboard or land-based, the chaplain is called the “ residual category.” You know, it’s not this, not that, not this and when the duties and obligations came along if it didn't fit this, if it didn't fit this, they’d say “Call in the chaplain!”

Marshall: Right, that was one thing I got involved in a time or two that took more time than I thought and probably didn't do a good job. They have a yearbook. When you’re at sea especially like going to West Pak, they’d take pictures of different things and make a book to give the guys. It’s a lot of work, but I helped on that a time or two. Like you said, I helped set up the bingo. We had bingo at night. They let me hold the money and keep up with the money and all this kind of stuff. That was kind of interesting.

Zarbock: So you were to contribute to the morale?

Marshall: Yes indeed, that was one of the things. Sometimes I was just as homesick and blue as they were, but we kind of consoled each other I think.

Zarbock: Do you remember any particular Christmas service that sticks out in your mind? Or some other church holiday. Easter?

Marshall: I remember one experience and I think it was the first sea duty I had on destroyers. They’d done some intervention on one of the ships, one of the destroyers in the group. We were going up to Canada, going through the Straits going up the East Coast, Montreal, Quebec, we went up there. We had a carrier with us and it stopped at Montreal and some of the others went on further.

That was an interesting experience, on the way up there we stopped in New York cause we were coming out of Norfolk. We stopped in New York City and I got some of them to go to some of the good shows and so forth. While I was there a naval man had died. I think it was probably during the Vietnam thing. He had requested to be buried at sea. So they brought the casket down and put it on the foredeck of the destroyer.

I think it was the day before we got underway. They had an Honor Guard there with it. It was on the deck. You have to go out beyond the 12 mile limit. So we got underway and it was kind of rough. When we got out there, the Captain asked me to say a few words and so forth. They stopped the ship and got the crew assembled. The Captain said a few words and I said a few words and then they put the casket on board and lifted it up and it just slid right down and splashed.

They had the Honor Guard, the firing of the rifles. Then we’re getting ready to go underway and someone said, “Look, it’s not sinking”. The Executive Officer said, “What? It’s just floating away!” Somebody told the Captain that it was not sinking. Evidently when they have a burial at sea, the casket is supposed to have holes cut in it so it will sink. They didn't do this and it was just bobbing there.

The Captain said, “Oh my gosh!”. He said let down the whaleboats. Well before they did that, they actually started shooting at it to shoot the thing to put some holes in it. I think the Captain thought that was not the best thing so they finally got the Boatswain Mate to lower some of the whaleboats or one of them. They had to take a fire axe. I thought, “ Oh my gosh, never in my life!”

Zarbock: But the sea was rough you said.

Marshall: It was pretty rough, but that thing was just bobbing along just like a boat you know. It probably would have floated for who knows? When they were getting the satellites and all those things, we were going out to pick up these rockets that they were shooting up. That was interesting. We were between Bermuda and the Azores when they were dropping those things. Little did I know that at this time we were going to have such an influence on this space type stuff. Interesting time, I’ll tell you.

Zarbock: This burial at sea, there weren’t members of the family on ship?

Marshall: No, they were not.

Zarbock: I would assume that the crew, this is a pretty depressing situation.

Marshall: Yeah, you know, there was nothing you could do. You certainly weren’t going to let the thing just stay out there, my goodness. It was the weirdest thing.

Zarbock: You’ve had a long and interesting life.

Marshall: It’s been a challenge and a rewarding experience. Wouldn’t take anything for it.

Zarbock: Before we started the interview, I told you chaplain that one of the conditions that is now taking place with you is that you’ll never get a day older. The film and the tape years and years from now you’re going to look the way you look right now, but history will change. All of us being mortal, I have no idea how long either one of us are going to be here. So I’m going to ask you to look right into the camera and I’d like you to please consider a message to your children, your blended family and your family of origin. What did you learn from all the years in the military that applies to right now and would apply to them perhaps?

Marshall: There’s an old adage that says “ live and let live” and the thing I would certainly want to share and want my family and friends to take, to live your faith, to be happy, to love the Lord with your heart and try to do unto others certainly as you would have them do unto you. Just give each day what you can and seek to live in peace and love your fellow man.

That would be the challenge I’d like to leave with my family and friends and I thank the good Lord for each of you and hope that your life will be as exciting and challenging as mine has been and that you’ll have some knocks because I think we learn more from mistakes, at least I have, than I have from the calmer times. It’s a challenge out there for you. Just reach out and take it and live it day by day.

Zarbock: Thank you sir. The Lord be with you.

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