I’ve been writing and exploring my family history for decades. It’s easy to get jaded and think there’s nothing new to discover about some people. My uncle, Carlisle E. Martin (1915-1977), was one of those people until a few months ago. Carlisle was the oldest of my mother’s siblings. His parents were J. Daniel Martin (1886-1955) and Florrie Thomas Martin (1894-1979).
A Surprise Email
A man named Mike, who collects military memorabilia and reunites the items with the veteran’s family, contacted me after reading one of my blog posts about Carlisle. He had Carlisle’s certificate from when he crossed the equator for the first time. It seems this is a big deal in the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. It’s a rowdy initiation rite that involves pranks, costumes, a King Neptune impersonator, and more.
Carlisle, the President, and the Iowa Head to the Middle East
Carlisle was on the U.S.S. Iowa in November 1943. The Iowa took President Roosevelt from Washington, D.C. to Tehran, Iran for the Tehran Conference with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. The conference began on November 28 and lasted until December 1. The Iowa returned the President to Washington on December 16, 1943.
Time to Party
During the downtime between taking the President to and from Tehran, the Iowa ventured in the Atlantic Ocean for reasons unknown. But they crossed the equator and enjoyed the ceremony that goes along with that.
Some resources about ceremonies for crossing the equator:
YouTube video about these ceremonies and other things. Only the first 8 minutes is about these ceremonies. It’s quite eye-opening!
Crossing the Line Cruise Book for USS Iowa 1943 – photos of the ceremony and antics from Carlisle’s crossing, though I can’t identify him in any of the photos.
What Mike Sent Me
Finally, here are photos of the certificate. The artwork is ornate, and the paper has held up well considering it’s 80 years old. Click on each photo to get the full view.
Have you been surprised by memorabilia or a letter or photo you didn’t know existed? I’d love to hear about it. Please comment.
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