HEROES
#8 in a series
Sea 2c William F. Dooley
By Paul A. Roales



Since I live in Tulsa, OK I began collecting items from the USS Tulsa which was a Navy gunboat which served in Nicaragua and China between the world wars and went on to fight in the South Pacific in World War II. In August, 2007 I purchased a collection of USS Tulsa items which previously belonged to William F. Dooley who was a crewman on the USS Tulsa from 1928-1931. In addition to government documents, menus, booklets, songsheets, envelopes and newspaper clippings there were 71 negatives from the USS Tulsa’s time in China in the early 1930‘s. So I decided to research Dooley. Note: The photos shown here are BELIEVED to be of William Dooley, but none of the photos in the collection are identified.

Unfortunately Genealogy research on Dooley's later life has proven fruitless because the Dooley name was so common in Philadelphia at that time. I have located many William Dooley’s but none seem to match his military record.

William Francis Dooley was born on July 17, 1910 in Philadelphia, PA. He was the son of Michael and Mary Dooley who had emigrated from Ireland. He had only a seventh grade education and had been working at the Industrial & Scientific Instrument Company of Philadelphia for a little over a year when, with the signed permission of his father, he enlisted in the Navy on January 10, 1928 for 3 ˝ years (until his 21st birthday). His US Navy serial number was 243 28 74. He was described as 5’ 5”, weight 103 lbs., with dark brown hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion. He had an anchor tattoo on the right forearm. He took his basic training at NTS Newport RI and was assigned to the USS Tulsa on April 10, 1928. On 16 May 1928 he was promoted from Apprentice Seaman to Seaman Second Class. The USS Tulsa was assigned to the Special Service Squadron for the protection of US interests during the Nicaraguan Insurrection and Dooley was awarded the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal for his service in that war.

En route for the west coast late in 1928, the USS Tulsa transited the Panama Canal as she prepared for duty in the Far East. She departed San Francisco, Calif., on 24 January 1929, called at Honolulu and Guam, and proceeded to Manila. Designated flagship of the South China Patrol on 1 April 1929, the USS Tulsa operated out of Hong Kong, British Crown Colony; and Canton, China, for cruises up the Pearl River and along the south China coast. At Canton in May 1929, she witnessed the bombing of Chinese naval vessels by airplanes of the opposing faction in a Chinese civil war flaring at the time. Relieved in June by the USS Mindanao as flagship of the South China Patrol, she steamed up the coast to Shanghai, beginning a two-week deployment with the Yangtze Patrol in which she cruised as far upriver as Hankow. Assigned new duties as station ship at Tientsin in north China, the USS Tulsa headed north in July 1929 to serve as a mobile source of information for the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet (CINCAF). She continued under the direct operational control of CINCAF into the 1930's.

With his enlistment nearing its end, on Feb. 16, 1931 Dooley was transferred to the USS Pittsburgh which was heading back to the US via the Mediterranean Sea. The USS Pittsburgh left Manila on 21 April 1931 and steamed for Suez en route to Hampton Roads, VA to be decommissioned. Dooley spent some time at tourist stops in Egypt (one of the photos show him on a camel with a pyramid in the background) and on the French Rivera at Nice (a travel itinerary for a tour of Monte Carlo was included in his papers). The USS Pittsburgh arrived in the US on 26 June and was decommissioning on 10 July. Dooley received an Honorable Discharge on July 15, 1931 at Portsmouth, VA. During his Navy service he circled the globe from east to west and witnessed conflicts in Nicaragua and China. Quite an adventure for a young man not yet of age.


With the country in the depths of the Great Depression he attempted to reenlist in Navy on March 1, 1932 and July 21, 1932 but was turned down both times. By Feb. 27, 1933 he had enlisted in the Army and was a Pvt. (serial number 06842091) in Btry. “C”, 1st Coast Artillery, Fort Sherman, Canal Zone (letter in Navy files).

At this point the story becomes very sketchy. I was able to obtain his Navy records from the National Archives, but his Army records were destroyed in the fire which ravaged the storage facility in St. Louis, MO on July 12, 1973. Only the Final Pay Voucher for his Army service was available. So I only have bits and pieces of his story after 1931. On-line records from the National Archives indicate that he enlisted again for 3 years on October 10, 1938 at Erie, Ohio for duty in Hawaii. But, at that time his marital status is coded on the form as separated with dependents. These records are not always reliable, so they must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, that record (prepared in 1938) lists his year of birth as 1944. His final pay voucher issued Dec. 3, 1945 from Ashford General Hospital in West Virginia lists him as a PFC and gives him 11 years of Army service (7 years, 2 months since his Oct, 1938 enlistment and probably 4 years from his 1933 Army enlistment) but that does not include his 3 ˝ years in the Navy.

The next record I can find for William is his Social Security Death Record. It indicates that he died in Aug 1983 at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. His Social Security number was 198-01-9549.



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