Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker, who’s organizing activities centered around the cruiser’s tragic sinking during World War II, said he was contacted by the daughter of a woman who held on to the letters for nearly seventy years. Winifred Blohm of New Jersey was the next door neighbor and good friend of William George Meeker, Jr. who served as a seaman aboard the Juneau. Wanamaker says Meeker wrote at least sixteen letters to Blohm.
“He became alive to me because I can remember being that person,” said Wanamaker reflecting on his early military training. “A new person, with less than a year, still learning and having a sense of wonderment about it all.”iFriendly Audio
Wanamaker said the collection also includes postcards and Japanese documents which need translation. Blohm recently passed away and her daughter wanted to pass the documents on to Meeker’s family, but she could not find any surviving relatives. She then turned to Wanamaker to arrange a possible donation to a museum or library.
A representative of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum was not present during an organizational meeting on October 5th. But a representative of the state’s historical collections said the City Museum would be the proper place for such artifacts.
The wife of Juneau Mayor Harry Lucas sponsored the U.S.S. Juneau which was launched in Kearny, New Jersey on Oct. 25, 1941.
The U.S.S. Juneau was a light cruiser that was eventually sunk following the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Among the 687 sailors who perished were the five Sullivan brothers.
Wanamaker is leading a group that’s organizing events to mark the seventieth anniversary of the sinking on Nov. 13, 1942. He said if anyone has any old artifacts or pictures related to the first U.S.S. Juneau, then they should contact him.