Pearce, David Kay - RMC
Served Aboard: circa 1977 - 1978
Navy Memorial Website:
SCPO DAVID KAY PEARCE, 72
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
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
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
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,
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,
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.
David Kay Pearce, Jr.
born Seattle, Washington 30 Jan 1967
to David Kay Pearce, Sr. and Marie Ann Sarris
who went on to become and archaeologist and art
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
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
best always and thank you,