Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Date of birth: March 8, 1926
Dates of Service: 1944 to 1946
Hometown: Fort Smith, Ark.
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Rank: E-4, Petty Officer 3rd class
Unit and Specialty: USS Lumen, boat coxswain
Discharge location: Fort Smith, Ark.
In his words: The pink ribbon was pulled from the envelope, a message from his wife: he was the father of a baby girl.
Before he left for war, Porter and his wife had devised a private code: should their child be a boy, there would be a blue ribbon; if a girl, pink.
“We wrote every day,” Porter said. When the mail came he would have a stack of letters from his wife and he would arrange them by date, forcing himself to start with the oldest and read them in order, although he wanted to jump to the most recent so badly. She had been 15 and he 17 when they met, he said. “It was like magic.”
He tried to volunteer for the Navy at 17, but his girlfriend went to his father. “She talked to him about it and asked him not to let me go,” he said. On his 18th birthday he made his first two adult decisions: he married his girl and registered for selective service.
As a boat coxswain, it was Porter’s duty to “haul people from ship to shore.” When at sea, his routine duties included coordinating watch duties and making sure the assigned men were at their stations. He was frequently ordered to make announcements over the public address system.
One night, while learning his duties and ways around equipment, Porter made a mistake.
“I piped reveille over the officer’s quarters.” he said. “I hit the wrong button.” The officers woke, rolled out and began to dress until someone saw it was still night. Porter recalls “getting chewed out,” although the officer sent to speak with him struggled to keep from laughing while giving the obligatory reprimand.
When he returned home, Porter saw his little girl for the first time. Hugging his wife, his 13-month-old daughter didn’t give him the reception he expected.
“She threw a fit when her mother and I embraced. She had seen pictures of me and she knew I was her daddy but when the picture came to life she didn’t like it very much,” he said.
Porter has never regretted his service: “For a little old boy from Arkansas who’d never been a way from home it was something… It was another time, another life, another world away. I wouldn’t take anything for it.”
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: