Monday, August 20, 2012

Meeting Neptune Rex in 1942

At around 6:00 AM on this date in 1942, the USS Vestal crossed the equator on its way to Tongatabu. Through his war years in the Pacific, this was 1 of only 2 times Dad crossed the equator. The other was his return trip in November 1943.

An equatorial crossing was a notable enough event to be stamped in one's service records. But also, crossing the equator required something of a ceremony performed on all "pollywogs" (uninitiated sailors) to become "Shellbacks" and pay tribute to "His August Highness Neptune Rex." Dad didn't mention many of the details to me, but what he did say sounded fairly outrageous. All in good fun, I'm sure, since Dad held on to his Domain of Neptunus Rex certificate, signed by Davy Jones, for the rest of his life.

Sources: Frank L. Dolan's Service Records and oral account; John D. Willeck Webpage

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