Star Bar

Pearce, David Kay - RMC

Served Aboard: circa 1977 - 1978

Navy Memorial Website:




LAKE WALES - SCPO David Pearce, born 7-25-42; died 1-5-15. He will be honored on Sat. 1/10 at 11am at Bethel Baptist Church, 690 E. Hwy 60, Lake Wales, FL.

Memories of son David K. Pearce Jr.

very much needing to set free the souls... and because there is a tremendous amount said when you say, insist on 'less art, more truth' i'd like to ask if you'd put this up about dad.  i'm all for letting it be just as it here as the conversation between you and me.  it's incredibly important to me to be honest and honest to dad's memory and i guess you can share a 'memoir' in something very edited and polished and 'publication ready' and i think anyone who might read this knows what that means. 

i know for a fact that dad was not about 100% perfect, edited and made perfect for presentation.  polish is brasso and brass.  not real life.

again i'll say that i'm immensely grateful to you for helping with this and all your kinds words and encouragement.  

in florida i want to thank my mom Marie (Sarris) Pearce ( dad's first wife) and her friend Marilyn Taubler (who are tearing up their golden years and everything else in their path down in horrible FL) for pulling together these fotos and, just as importantly, the memories also and help getting them into dad's memorial page.

in missouri, i want to thank my aunt beverly reynolds pearce (dad's sister) for her recalls of dad's life and career. she's a tremendous lady.  she was always good about visiting florida from missouri and i know it aint easy when you have a life and family of your own seemingly far away.  i hope she likes this.

and, of tremendous inspiration to me always, just like my mom, dad in memory and life/afterlife known soul mate, and all the great teachers i've known, my mom's sister Frances in California.  while it may cause tremendous embarassment, i think it would make dad laugh til he cried (like it does me) one thing i've always remembered.  one day at my grandparents house on Acacia Avenue in Bonita, San Diego, me, my brothers and cousins playing in the pool, barbecue and all that... Dad in his 30's, already one WestPac cruise under his belt, Fran was teasing him about having a beer belly.  And I'm remember she grabbed a little gut over his belt and said 'Yeah, what's this Dave? Huh?'  and, so like him, he said 'What do you think... tombstone for a dead peter.'  She broke loose of immediately and that was the end of the conversation.  It's that kind of thing that is so true to the life and spirit he was and will live on being for me.  I guess i have to leave you editor/site owner rights to kill that part if you don't think it's OK.  but I hope you'll leave it in.

there's a little about dad's early career that i don't know all the details of and my mom would not have known either.

dad was born in arcadia, florida on 25 july 1942.  his parents were David Crockett Pearce and Geneva Wiliford. Both were native floridians.  I think my grandpa pearce - 'pappy' as he was most know, was the first pearce male in florida who is not in the state archives as the son of a 'hog thief'  I'm not kidding.

Dad had one brother Charles 'Chucky' and one sister Beverly.  All were natives to Arcadia, FL.

this one is actually not dad's enlistment photo, but must have been taken later after going to radio school up in washington state.  I'm guessing at this because the photo shows the eagle above lightning bolts and he got those well after his enlistment. 

dad enlisted in FL right out of high school graduation from Winter Haven High School in 1960.  Memory serves mom (this was before they met) that dad went through basic training in San Diego and then his first duty assignment was in Hawaii.  There dad met Bob Reynolds and I guess they had become friends. dad's sister beverly flew out to Hawaii to visit dad in the early sixties, met dad's friend Bob and almost immediately, Bob and Bev got married and are still married to this day and live in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

Mom, an all her life daughter of a Navy Officer, was then living in San Diego, CA and mom and dad met in 1964.  They married on 1 May 1965 and stayed in San Diego a while and then dad was sent off to another school in Bremerton, Washington (suburb/outer area of Seattle) and stayed there until late summer to early fall of 1967.  I, david jr, was born in Seattle in Jan 67, their 1st kid and both in order, and by character, still the best one.

in this one that you so beautifully restored, is dad and my mom's mom Carmella, known to some as 'Camel' and to everyone else as 'Nana' on one of the Hull 945 dependent day cruises.  and i remember those, lots of us went and it was out of SD Harbor and back same day, maybe just a few miles out and barbeque on the fan tail and tours of the ship.  Always a great time and what a wonderful community building - and sharing with family -  the feeling of being aboard one of these incredible things as these Navy vessels and their crews.

this one as you saw and ID'd in the photo is dad on the NavCommSta Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, Navy Softball Team.   Dad had been very athletic in high school and played on the football team and for south central florida, the 1960's, middle of nothing but citrus groves, baseball and football were probably about it. and i know it was something he always enjoyed, the comraderie especially.  Dad was pitcher on the fast-pitch team.  Intramural (i'm guessing) in its structure, Navy Athletics were leagues of a sort and they traveled to tournaments in the Phillipines and Japan and so on...

and, in this one above, you'll see dad among the coaches of the NCS football team.  which was probably more dad's comfort zone in the sports he played himself.

in these one below, is dad receiving his insignia and uniform sleeve patches and I don't think i had ever seen these and i guess mom found them somewhere in her archives.  these would have been in 1966.  the bottom most of the three is my mom, dad of course, and me in 1967, so i was not quite 1 year old and we were all back in San Diego.

again the softball team and dad in the back row, third in from the right, wearing a windbreaker and his eyes are shut.

and the softball boys again in 1972, guam and The Vietnam War still very much going on and (below) dad, bearded, is on the far right in the white more classic baseball looking uniform.


in sort of timeline form, dad enlisted in 1960 and it was then to San Diego, and then Hawaii and back to San Diego where he and my mom met and they married in 1965.  From there to Bremerton/Seattle until 1967 when i was born and we were back to San Diego.  Dad training in Bremerton for Radio and Crypto was, that mom has said, in preparation for duty on the USS Hull and WestPac.  He remained continuously associated/crew of the Hull and WestPac thru his tours of duty on-board while 945 was stationed at Subic Bay and also times spent on Vietnamese soil.  I don't know much about that time period as i was just too young and i saw the world in a very different way than i'm sure all the grown ups did.  it's only historical info that with the Paris Peace Accords in Jan 1973, active US involvement in Vietnam was ramping down and we left Guam sometime in Nov of that year.

From 73 to 79 we were all in San Diego and dad remained Hull and WestPac until he alone (initially) went to Florida (Orlando) to become a recruiter with, I'm not entirely sure, the aim of retiring in his home state.

He retired from active duty in 1983.

Of a lot of it, and from only non-specific or less than specific memories, I think back to my experience on the Tiger Cruise and what I've written about it here.  As I said, when you're 9 years old and doing something like that it hits like a 5 day roller coaster ride - fleeting and very intense images.  It's only in hindsight and being old enough to have corrected vision, that I see dad as someone who thrived in a sense of community;  us (mom and me and my brothers), his Hull family, the softball team, the football team, the social groups. But balancing all those social circles is hard.  I'm certain he always did his best when he felt like he belonged to something made up of like minded people who had a purpose toward something positive and good.   and i also know him as someone who, when he did not have that, felt lonely, lost, unsure of his purpose.  I can't really know how he felt in returning from Vietnam and maybe he didn't know how to describe it, or, as it turns out with lots of things, you just can't give it words. you can explain all you want, but it's the kind of thing you can't make someone else understand. I can't help but wonder if at times he felt that HE was 'a message in a bottle' ... something meaningful and self-identifying to say to someone, anyone, on the edge of any of the worlds seas who might find it.  even if it that something meaningful and-self-indentifying was just one of his stupid Cooter Brown stories. 

as i quoted from the Sting song in my previous message on this now posted on the site, there's another line about 'drifting on empty seas..,'  i can't help thinking that in 1984, he now 40 years old, 20 of those years in The Navy and not much exotic left on the horizon, he was drifting on empty seas.

He kept his sense of humor about him that i know of.  It seemed he focused mostly on the good and funny things.  He was like a lot of us, the common man in us, that we defeat ourselves with in a lack of self-forgiveness.  And maybe in all this is not the story of a Vietnam War or any other type ;hero.'  There are still the heroes of everyday life and they are all around us.

Finding your website is huge blessing and I and others are grateful the opportunity to amend the indigent authored obituary from the Lake Wales newspaper.

Dave Pearce's parents were David Crockett Pearce and Geneva Williford Pearce (both deceased now many years and their own places in Florida's frontier state history)  He is survived by his Sister Beverly Reynolds of Lee's Summit, Missouri, and his brother Charles "Chucky" Pearce, who still resides in Polk County, FL

My two brothers Matthew John and Christoper Scott also live in Lake Wales. Matthew and wife Marsha have two sons, Landon and Reagan.  Chris and his wife Katie, have two daughters, Camilla and Isabella, and a son also named Jacob.
Dad's ashes were laid to rest at the Veterans Cemetery in Bushnell, FL. 

I can really only think of one more thing I'd like to add to this.  While I know I probably could not ever make it happen, i did mention in an email to mom (and I BCC'd you) that in my crazy dreams and just let it be the thought that counts, It would mean a lot to me if somehow, on an anniversary of somekind, gets dad's ashes back from Bushnell Cemetery and get them back to The Hull.  Isn't that stupid?  In a part dream last night I even saw myself as a diver, diving the shipwreck of the hull and putting his urn back on the red vinyl upholstered desk chair i remember his always sitting on in the Petty Officers' Mess on board The Hull.  She, as you know, is almost exactly 200 miles due west of San Diego and, according to her rest coords and marker 2,096 fathoms deep.  I guess all I can is let it be that the greatest of good deeds, those you do to either honor someone else or make them happy, even if they are only ones you dream of, then dream big as you can.

again, thank you lou.  this is all ready as it is, i think and go up where i can get it out to family and let, as has happened already with one, let dad's shipmates find it.

Memories of the '77 Tiger Cruise from an earlier email:

Gosh, memories of the 'Tiger Cruise'?  I was very excited about it and it was summer vacation time, so I was not in school and I remember flying (and it must have been PSA: Poor Sailor's Airline) to Los Angeles.  And just to check in, called mom from a payphone in LAX to let her know where I was. It was then pity the guy next to me who had sit next to an unescorted kid, it was long, long flight to Oahu, Hawaii.  I remember getting off the plane and dad meeting me in his dress khakis and it was not much time in/on Oahu, but right to the Hull at dock on onto the ship.  And it wasn't the first time I had seen the Hull or been aboard.  I think at other times The Navy and the crew had day cruises for family out of San Diego and what I barely remember... the fantail barbecues.

The rest are short film kinds of memories, if that makes sense.  The weather when we got underway in Oahu was beautiful and sunny and it seemed truly beautiful place.  Buzz on ship was that it was headed into bad weather for the trip home, but being all of WestPac, there was no way of delaying departure for home San Diego.  The first night and onto two days were very rough.  For a kid with no 'sea legs' we had to spend most of our time below deck and, as I recall, in the Petty Officer's Mess/Lounge.  Actually, it seemed like we lived in that room.  And it was buzz of activity and, me constantly shy, just so much new and starting off sick from the ship tossing like crazy. It was really amazing how Dad and all the guys.. just carrying on and doing their thing like it's no big deal this huge ship pitching left and right and forward and back.  I still vividly remember walking around below deck in those narrow quarters and it seeming very claustrophobic... and pipes, and pipes, and pipes going everywhere.  It seemed like an entire city's worth of plumbing.  More memorable was head crashing into them when, in the rough seas, the anti-gravity feeling of the whole ship falling from your feet.  Hard to describe, but I'm sure the Sea Dogs will well know what I mean. Me a maybe 80-90lb 9 year old and all of sudden you're in the air because the entire ship just dropped from where you're feet were touching it.  And only now thinking about the power of rough seas and oceans out there and just how insignificant is even a huge Sherman Class Destroyer like the Hull.  The crew all those guys, were really great and while some were busting on long days, others were a big help even how busy they were making sure we were OK.

Also, one thing I remember of that cruise was that it wasn't at all many kids that went or it just worked out that there were not many on the Hull for that ride.  Only about 1 or 2 other and they were a little older than me and I think and sons of the Officers. It seemed mostly like fathers, uncles, brothers and that similar in age or 'parent aged' relatives of the guys who were Vets themselves.

So, couple days and lots of ginger ale and saltine crackers later, I got my sea legs and stomach and lots, and lots more come to memory from the ride...Like getting a shower in crew shower room and having mistakenly turned on the hot tap full blast and boiling hot water coming from it to where I couldn't get near it to shut it off and most of the guys couldn't either it was so hot.

The man who came every morning to change the clock in the Petty Officers' Lounge and mess room as we changed time zones everynight.

Watching movies in that lounge at night because there wasn't much else to do during down times and having no idea what 'blacksploitation' was, watching a film called 'Five on the Black Hand Side'  and the mess there being the 1st time, I think, I'd ever had softserve ice cream. Or if it wasn't the first time, it was really good and having it every night.

Getting out on to deck and watching how crew and things, like the movies in their canisters, got moved from one vessel to another by a rope and basket and pulley above the water and whole fleet still moving.

Firing of the big aft guns and actually sitting in the gunner seat and looking through the sight at other vessels.  And good God those things were loud! I'd thought I'd never be able to hear again.

So, what a rare thing in having been able to do that and I sit here writing this, thinking of more things, and it not being a continuity of the whole trip, but bits and pieces. And I guess in being broken up like that, some might argue that such a great trip, adventure, honor to ride with WestPac on that last leg home was something wasted on a kid and maybe that's why not many kids went.  My dad must have felt differently about it and that it would not have been wasted on me and it wasn't wasted and I'll never forget it.

this picture...


David Kay Pearce, Jr. 

born Seattle, Washington 30 Jan 1967

to David Kay Pearce, Sr. and Marie Ann Sarris Pearce

who went on to become and archaeologist and art historian

and made it around the world, is fluent in 3 languages and well versed in 5 others

lived in the most ancient modes of life among 'traditional' peoples in Tunisia, Egypt, Cambodia and presently lives and works in washington dc

and feels as though the piece of the soul he got from his dad is even a tiny bit greater

instead of a fraction smaller

knows his dad better now than he ever did

and would only want to say if he could...

i'm so sorry, dad

i wish i had known you better.



because i want to let this be.

i see in that foto of me and 'Left Right' a favorite painting by Winslow Homer of two ducks on stormy water...

i just thought of something, an expression, like many he said the he said all the time. 

when asked 'what's that?'   he used to say...

'rudder for a ducks butt...'

i think i, finally, just understood.

best always and thank you, 

david jr.