Cy Gilmore can tell you exactly how long he served aboard the Navy ship the USS Hollister.
“It was three years, 11 months and 27 days,” said Gilmore, who would have left the service sooner if not for the Korean War. “I only had three weeks to go when the Korean War started. When that happened, they gave me another year.”
For his years in the U.S. Navy from 1947 to 1951, Gilmore will be honored in June by the Cherokee Nation. He says his mother was a full-blooded Cherokee and he is between three-eighths and one-half Indian.
Gilmore’s award, called the Medal of Patriotism, will be given June 15 in Tahlequah, Okla. He says he plans to drive out for the ceremony with his wife, Linda.
It will be the fourth military-related recognition for Gilmore, 84. He also has a Good Conduct Medal, a Korean War Medal, and a China Service Medal.
Gilmore says his time aboard the USS Hollister can be described as cramped as there were 365 men aboard the ship. Bunks were stacked three high and he slept on the middle bunk.
In 1949, the USS Hollister was stationed in Japan near the city of Nagasaki. Nagasaki was one of two Japanese cities the United States destroyed with atomic bombs. It is estimated 40,000 people were killed instantly and the city of Nagasaki claims the total death toll was more than 73,000 from the Aug. 9, 1945 bombing.
“It was still a disaster zone when I was there,” said Gilmore. “It was flat and they weren’t doing any type of construction at the time. Marines guarded the gates of our naval base to make sure we couldn’t leave. They didn’t want anybody roaming around.”
Gilmore, now retired, enjoys gardening at his home in the northern part of the county toward Dibrell.