There are good ships and wood ships,
ships that sail the sea,
but the best ships are friendships,
may they always be!
This plaque honors Jack for a part of his life when he nearly lost his life in service to his country and when his service to his country cost him his marriage and the joy of knowing his child. It was given in Jack's memory by seven friends of Remembering Jack Lord and is laid in the Memorial Arbors, US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York (Photograph provided by the USMMA)
Jack served as a merchant mariner. Merchant mariners can be men hired as laborers, or they can be highly trained ship's officers, who have studied at a merchant marine academy. Jack began as the former when he was only 14 years old. His first sail was during Christmas break from school. He described the experience of being away from his family at Christmas as being very lonely and the point at which the boy became a man. Thereafter, he spent most holidays at sea, until he graduated from New York University in 1942.
By then, World War II was in full swing. Jack's dreams of pursuing his love of art had to be put on the back burner when the government drafted all merchant mariners, who are civilians, and required them to serve in the war effort. After working for the Army Corps of Engineers in Persia (Iran), Jack returned to the Merchant Marine and began serving on merchant ships. One of those ships was torpedoed off the coast of Italy and sank in seven minutes. Jack nearly lost his life before he made his way aboard a lifeboat. Sixteen hours passed before he was rescued.
Just like the ship on which Jack served, this merchant ship was torpedoed at its fantail.
UK Government - public domain
Returning Stateside, Jack enrolled in the US Maritime Service's Officer Training School, then located at the Coast Guard Academy at Fort Trumbull in New London, Connecticut.
There does not appear to be much left of Fort Trumbull as it was
in Jack's day. Instead, these buildings house Coast Guard offices,
while the surrounding lands are a state park as per signs seen along
the way. (Google Street View)
Left: Jack is seen in his Merchant Marine uniform in an Officers School photo-
graph. Center: Cover of the graduation bulletin when Jack finished Officers
School and was commissioned an Ensign in the Merchant Marine and Coast
Guard. Right: We see Jack's name as it appeared in the graduation bulletin.
In June of 1945, Jack received a commission into the US Maritime Service at the rank of ensign with a third mate's license. Jack’s commission included an obligation to serve the Maritime Service for an additional period of time. He was sent to Washington, where he served as an artist for service publications and then appeared in training films. Jack’s obligation to the Maritime Service did not end until 1948.
Enjoy these videos showing New London, Connecticut. The first one shows historic buildings, while the second one is drone footage that shows the harbor views, including Fort Trumbull, as it appears today.
History of the Maritime Service Officer Training School in Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
The Maritime Officers Training School at Fort Trumbull graduated
15,473 officers in 76 classes between 1939 and 1946,
when training was transferred to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Nehemiah Persoff gives a brilliant performance as a German naval officer aboard a British merchant ship in the Atlantic Ocean in 1942. It seems that he is a ghost being haunted by the ship he sank. It all illustrates very well Jack's ordeal off the coast of Italy, as well as the ghosts of war that all who serve bring home with them. Also appearing: Patrick McNee and James Franciscus.
Watch it on CBS-All Access.
Produced by Cayuga Productions / CBS Television, 1959.