Earl Claiborne, Sr.

Monday, December 28, 2009
Earl Claiborne Sr

Earl L. Claiborne, Sr., 90, of Mountain Home, Idaho, passed away Dec. 19 2009, at the Veteranšs Administration Hospital in Boise. At his request no services will be held. However, a memorial with a gathering of family and friends will be observed in the spring, date and place to be determined.

Dad was born at home in Eden, Idaho, on March 31, 1919, to Robert and Alice (Miller) Claiborne. In his early years he lived in and around Eden and Jerome area. In his teen years he lived with his older brother, Emmett, in Phoenix, Ariz., where he attended and graduated from high school. A feat in his life that he bragged about often because he worked and attended school simultaneously, graduating when he was 21 years of age.

He was preceded in death by his parents, beloved wife of 32 years Mildred (Millie), four brothers (Ray, Glenn, Emmett, Hayden) and two sisters (Ruth, Ruby). He is survived by his son, Earl, Jr., daughters Alice and Reta, and numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.

In 1942, Dad enlisted in the Navy where he eventually obtained the rank of Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class. Dad rarely revisited his years in the Navy; he was very subdued and solemn on the occasion when he did. Due to a severe in-the-line-of-duty injury while stationed at Norfolk, Va., Dad was not able participate in any enemy actions. The accident, as related by Dad, was the result of an explosion while he was working on an aircraft inside a hangar. He offered little more than this simple explanation. However, on-line research details a lot more to the incident than his story.

Father was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Norfolk Naval Station. A part of this facilities function was the loading of munitions onboard naval war ships. Some of these munitions were underwater mines. Workers would load these mines on a train of flatbed trailers and tow them to waiting craft by airplane tugs. In an effort to transfer as many mines in one trip as possible the loaders would place some mines on the trailers' tongues and lash them in place.

Dad was in an aircraft hangar working on the elevators at the rear of an aircraft when one of the trains was moving across a parking ramp near the hangar enroute to the docks for unloading. Unknown to the tug operator, one of the mines lashed to a trailer tongue was dragging the ground and began to smoke. This was observed by a Marine sentry, but before he could warn anyone the mine exploded. The explosion was intensified by the ultimate explosion of the remaining mines in the train. As a result of this tremendous explosion many persons were killed and injured, including the Navy's first WAVE (women sailor) casualty. Dad was found unconscious with his hands on the back of his head holding his brain in place. He spent a year in the hospital recovering and was ultimately medically discharged from the Navy in 1944.

This injury never slowed Dad down. He worked hard his whole life and eventually retired from civil service at Naval Ammunition Depot Hawthorne, Nev., in 1974. Ironically, he had worked on the same instrument of war that had caused his injuries, underwater mines.

Dad had more than earned the privilege of having "Taps" played at services in his memory. Since he wanted no services here are the words:

Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lakes
from the hills
from the sky,
all is well,
safely, rest,
God is near.

fading light,
dims the sight,
and a star gems the sky,
gleaming bright,
from afar,
falls the night.

Thanks and praise,
for our days,
neath the sun,
neath the stars,
neath the sky,
as we go,
this, we, know
God is near.

We will miss you terribly, Dad. We will miss your smile. We will miss your teasing. We will miss your wise counsel. We will miss your laugh. But, most of all, we will miss you being a part of our daily lives. Rest well Father, we love you