History came alive on Saturday when Juneau residents heard the words of a sailor who eventually perished when his vessel, the U.S.S. Juneau, was sunk during World War II.
Seaman William George Meeker, a sailor aboard the light cruiser that sank following the naval battle of Guadalcanal, sent seventeen letters to Winifred Blohm, his next door neighbor and good friend in Harrison, New Jersey.
The letters were briefly put on display at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and an actor read from some of them during an event on Saturday.
The letters were donated by Blohm’s daughter and son-in-law Mary and Ray Testa.
Jodi DeBruyne, curator of the museum’s collections and exhibits, says they just received the letters last week – one week before the seventieth anniversary of the U.S.S. Juneau’s sinking.
“Mary was reading through the letters last December,” recalls DeBruyne. “So, they came across them and they discovered this great love story. They want to preserve it for a future (generation) and for William Meeker not to be forgotten.”
DeBruyne says letters will be preserved in archival- and museum-quality settings until they are brought out for display again.
Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker brokered the donation of the letters from the Testa family.
Also included: pictures of Meeker and a picture of Winifred Blohm visiting Juneau in 1991. The Testas are trying to track down another picture of Blohm visiting the U.S.S. Juneau memorial on the waterfront.
She passed away in 1998.
Among the 687-sailors who perished when the Juneau was sunk on November 13th, 1942 were the five Sullivan brothers. At least two other sets of brothers reportedly served on the vessel.
A service is planned at the U.S.S. Juneau memorial on the waterfront at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
- Anchorage police estimate the airplane tire slashing caused roughly $200,000 worth of damage.
- The gunmen reportedly took hostages at the eatery in an upscale neighborhood with many foreign embassies. It's not clear whether there are any casualties or how many attackers might be involved.
- The volcano has erupted more than 40 times since record-keeping began in the late 1700s.
- Friday is likely to be the first time uniformed Juneau police officers have marched in their sister city's Canada Day parade.