WWII oral history interview
Date: July 12, 2002
Yeoman 3rd Class B. June (nee Parks) Stone
U.S. Navy, N.O. B. Norfolk, VA, June 1944 – May 1946
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Irving Bauman
B. June Stone was born B. June Parks in June, 1924 in Newark, New Jersey. Her father served in the navy during World War I on the USS Leviathan, a German passenger liner confiscated by the United States and used as a troop transport ship. Mr. Parks loved his Navy experience, and he spoke about it frequently to his family. It could not have all been pleasant, however; June’s brother, an army Korean War Veteran, had a log of his father’s Leviathan experience that indicated many men on board died in the great influenza epidemic of that era.
Stone grew up in the Vailsburg section of Newark and nearby Maplewood. She graduated from Columbia high school in Maplewood in 1942, and worked for the Prudential Insurance Co. from 1942 to 1944. Although her mother wanted her to attend college, June was eager to become involved in the war effort and enlisted in the US Navy in June 1944 as soon as she was legally able (women had to be twenty years old to enlist). She was living in Toms River, New Jersey at that time and reported to Hunter College in New York City for WAVE “boot camp.” After six weeks of basic training in New York she was transferred to Oklahoma State University for further instruction as a Yeoman 3rd Class. Women in the navy were not permitted to undertake overseas assignments, and Stone was assigned for active duty service to the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. At Norfolk, June and her fellow WAVEs were quartered two persons to a room. While stationed in Virginia, she was able to occasionally catch a plane ride to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, where her father picked her up and brought her home for a visit.
June worked as a Reporting Officer’s WAVE in an office located close to the Norfolk piers where carriers, battleships and other ships dropped anchor. Her unit consisted of 140 officers and men and 48 WAVES, all under the supervision of an admiral. Officers assigned to ships would report to her office, and she would then locate the ships and advise personnel officers on shipboard that they were coming to join the crew. If an officer’s orders indicated he was on shore leave, she would assign him to the proper Bachelor Officer’s Quarters; if he was assigned to a ship, she would arrange transport to the ship’s location. Many men who processed through her office had orders for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and were flown there from the Naval Air Station in Norfolk. She recalled that she once processed the orders of an entire Annapolis graduating class over a two day period. Although she loved her job, Stone recalled that some officers commissioned through officer candidate schools had a tendency to “pull rank” on the WAVES. Annapolis graduates, on the other hand, universally behaved as gentlemen.
June recalled that the civilians in Norfolk were generally unfriendly to Navy personnel, because of a tendency of some sailors to “tear up the town” on shore leave. There was extraordinary celebration on the base with the announcement of V-E Day, as Norfolk went wild with excitement and the base band serenaded the garrison with swing music. The announcement of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan brought a similar outburst of enthusiasm, as it became apparent the war in the Pacific was ending.
June was discharged from the navy in May, 1946, and awarded the American Campaign and WWII Victory Ribbons. She subsequently married Jack Stone, who had served as a US Navy pharmacist’s mate aboard LST 603 in North Africa, Sicily and Salerno. The couple settled in Toms River, New Jersey, where they raised four children. Their only son, John, graduated from Toms River High School in 1965, left college after his freshman year during the Vietnam War, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Communications Specialist. He died at age 29 during the Vietnam War while at a base in South Australia. John’s body was returned home on his parent’s twentieth wedding anniversary and buried with full military honors. Mrs. Stone stated that her son had married a British girl at a Royal Air Force Base in England, and that they had a son. Besides her late son, Mrs. Stone had three daughters, three grandsons, and two granddaughters at the date of her interview.
June Stone belongs to the Jersey Shore WAVES, a ninety member organization which meets on a monthly basis and on holidays. She has served as Grand Marshall of the Toms River Memorial Day Parade. Mrs. Stone is a Gold Star Mother, Veteran of WWII, member of American Legion Post 129, Toms River, and honorary member of the Post’s Auxiliary American Gold Star Mothers Inc., the Navy League, and WAVES National Unit #68. She visits the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ memorial at Holmdel, New Jersey periodically. During her interview she read a poem about Gold Star Mothers called “Ladies of Gold.” She showed the interviewer several World War II era booklets advising naval personnel on adjusting to civilian life, her dog tags, newspaper articles describing her service, and postcards she has received from soldiers.