Walter Steffes was born in Illinois on June 10, 1928. He graduated high school in 1946, and the very next day, he left for the Navy. He spent a few months attending a basic electronics school where he learned to be an electronics technician on a Navy vessel. Prior to the Korean War, he spent time along the Chinese coast on search and rescue parties, and surveying ocean and beach depths for the Navy. In 1948, he was discharged from the Navy, only to be recalled in 1950 as the Korean War broke out. During the war, he was sent to work on the Kula Gulf aircraft carrier where he fixed electronic equipment and helped train pilots to land on an aircraft carrier. Walter Steffes was finally discharged again in 1952. He donated his time to the Shriners Hospital performing as a clown, providing a reprieve for children with disabilities.
Preparation for Korea
Walter Steffes describes the military effort to revamp WWII ships and planes for use during the Korean War. The US military recommissioned the USS Kula Gulf CVE-108, originally the USS Vermillion Bay from dry dock. The US military had to train pilots on landing the propeller F4U Corsair onto the USS Kula Gulf. However, the introduction of the jet, forced the Kula Gulf from training to transportation of planes across the Atlantic Ocean.
Life inside a Destroyer Vessel
Walter Steffes describes life on a Navy Destroyer. This clip describes the differences between those in the Army on the front lines and those in the Navy participating in the war behind the scenes. The role of the Navy in contemporary American wars is often not discussed in history textbooks, so Mr. Steffes provides a great introduction to the role of the Navy.
Role of a Destroyer
Walter Steffes describes the role of the Newman K. Perry, a Gearing-class destroyer. The submarine is a formidable foe for the aircraft carrier. The destroyer is expendable and would position itself around the larger aircraft carrier. However, during the time between WWII and the Korean War, the role of the Newman K. Perry was to survey tidal patterns and ocean depths of the Chinese coastline.