A collection of photographs, letters, telegrams, newspaper clippings, and other material documenting the life of Myron Kendall Strickland of Huron, South Dakota, presumably assembled by his mother, Muriel Strickland. His original birth certificate accompanies more than 50 photographs that show his growth from infancy to adolescence. The program for and an invitation to his high school graduation are also present, as are an invitation to and numerous photos of his wedding to Phyllis Stoller of Burbank, California on May 1, 1942. Shortly thereafter, Strickland left his position at the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. A few holographic letters from boot camp preceed 19 photographs of Strickland in uniform. The remainder of the scrapbook contains material concerning Strickland’s tragic death in the USS Serpens explosion at Guadalcanal on January 29, 1945.
Strickland was serving as a radioman aboard the Serpens, a Liberty ship tasked with carrying cargo and rolling stock between ports and anchoranges in the South Pacific. Late in the evening on January 29, 1945, the vessel was anchored off Lunga Beach. The commanding officer and seven others were ashore. The remaining 198 members of the crew and 57 members of an Army stevedore unit were on board, loading depth charges into her holds. During the loading, the Serpens exploded. The force of the explosion was so great that it killed an Army soldier who was ashore. After the explosion, only the bow of the ship was visible; the rest had disintegrated. Only two sailors aboard survived the incident. The cause of the explosion was initially attributed to enemy action but was never completely determined. It remains the largest single disaster ever suffered by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The scrapbook includes several newspaper clippings; a March 3, 1945 telegram from Rear Admiral L.T. Chalker, Acting Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, who states that the press reports are misleading and that there is insufficient evidence to declare Strickland killed in action; copies of letters from C.A. Anderson, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, to Strickland’s wife – the first establishes that he is missing in action and attributes the explostion to an enemy torpedo, the second expresses condolences; other letters of condolence; the program for his memorial service in Burbank, California; telegrams and official notices for reinterment of Strickland and his fellow servicemen at Arlington Cemetary on June 16, 1949; photographs and clippings of the reinterment ceremony and the Serpens memorial at Arlington; and three of the service medals posthumously awarded to Strickland.
The material is either pasted or mounted with photo corners on the brown paper leaves, which are toned and a bit brittle. Housed in a decorative cream buckram binding, which is bound with a cream string tie. Item #64634