A native of Brooklyn, NY, Walt Meierdierks enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in 1949.
“I was only 17 and I wanted to go into the Navy,” said Meierdierks. “My parents had to sign for me to join.”
Meierdierks was inducted on June 2, 1949 and sent to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
“Going to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes during the summer wasn’t too bad,” he said. “At least we didn’t have to deal with the cold that comes in the winter.”
After Boot Camp, Meierdierks went home on 12 days leave before returning to the Great Lakes for the next three months.
“I was assigned to galley duty in the mess hall for women’s Boot Camp,” he said.
After three months in the galley, Meierdierks was transferred to the USS Allen M Sumner, DD-692.
“My first three months onboard ship I was assigned to the galley again,” said Meierdierks. “I was beginning to believe I was going to spend my whole enlistment mess cooking.”
He was transferred to the deck force before successfully passing the test for boiler technician.
Meierdierks spent the rest of his time in the Navy tending boilers, a job that helped him upon his discharge.
The Sumner made two Mediterranean deployments during Meierdierks time aboard.
‘We hit a lot of ports throughout the Med,” he said. “I was a young kid and didn’t take as much advantage of the ability to sightsee as I should have, but I did take a four day tour of Rome, which I liked very much,” he said.
After being discharged on March 4, 1953, Meierdierks returned to his native Brooklyn. He worked as a boiler technician with a small repair firm for three years before going to work for the New York City school system.
“I remember Brooklyn the night the Dodgers won the world championship in 1955,” he said. “It was a great time. Two years later, the team left and it affected all of us for a long time.”
When he retired from the school system in 1995, Meierdierks and his wife, Lorraine, decided to move south.
“We were familiar with the Grand Strand through vacations,” he said. “We had enough of the fast paced life of New York and the winters. We moved here in 1995 and have loved it every minute.”
Meierdierks said the biggest thing he got out of the Navy was maturity.
“I believe everyone should serve at least two years in the military,” he said. “The Navy did a lot for me. It made me grow up. I still look back fondly on my time in the service.”Brunswick County, N.C.