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Ken Sadler

Ken Sadler

  • Service Branch: United States Navy
  • Service Dates: 1958–1962
  • Stationed: USS Des Moines
  • Rank: Lieutenant

Ken wanted to insure himself that he would serve his military obligation in a service other than the Infantry and to do so in New Orleans. While still in high school he joined Navy Reserve unit near his hometown in New Orleans. He participated in the Guard for 2 years in high school and 4 years during college, between the years 1952 and 1958. During this time period as a reservist, Ken attended bootcamp at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois. Ken achieved the rank of Third-Class Bosins Mate in the Reserves.
He received his commission as an Ensign following his college graduation and went to Officer Training at Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion, he received orders, almost immediately, for sea duty on the battle cruiser USS Des Moines. The Des Moines was the flagship for the 6th Fleet and it was stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. Before reaching his duty station Ken managed a series of whirlwind activities: He and Sarah got married, honeymooned in New York City, bought a Citroen bug for delivery in Paris, drove to a small base in southern France where the ship was based on the Riveria coast, and rented an apartment. He did all of this before he even boarded the ship for the first time. It was now 1958 and Ken was ready to begin his tour of duty.
Even before settling-in and adapting to life in a foreign village/port. The Des Moines was dispatched to the coast off Beirut, Lebanon, to present a show of force during a period of unrest and political protests. Throughout Ken’s duty tour his ship made multiple passes along the coast of Lebanon.
At other times, the Des Moines (and Ken) toured many different ports through the Med. – As Ken tells it, Sarah and other officer wives, became “ship followers” packed into the little Citroen and meeting their husbands at the next port-of-call. Ken indicated they typically spent 2 weeks at sea, followed by a week in port.
At best, Ken and Sarah have to admit it was a great time and that Ken accomplished much during his tour. He achieved recognition and qualified for Officer-of-the-Deck-Underway. He was trusted to drive the boat!
The Des Moines returned to Boston in 1962. The Ship and Ken were retired from active duty at this time. After moving to New Orleans, Ken served roughly another 6 years in the Navy Reserves and left the service as a Lieutenant jg. Ken and Sarah raised their family of 5 in Louisiana, did a 2-year mid-life family cruise on a sailboat, and had a very successful career in the insurance industry before retiring and moving to the environs of the Chesapeake Bay.

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