2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 30, 2020 5:48 PM by Holly Rivet

    Seeking Navy service record information for James Joseph Kelley


      My paternal grandfather, James Joseph Kelley, was born in Brewer, Maine on July 7, 1896.   He died in July, 1958, at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Massachusetts.  He served as an enlisted member of the Navy from 1914-1934.   According to his "Continuous Service Certificate":  (1) He enlisted on 9/11/1914 at the Navy Recruiting Station, Portsmouth, NH.  ( I believe that he  retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) in the Medical Corps). (2) He served  aboard The USS PUTNAM (287), as a Pharmacist Mate (later, this rate became "Medical Corpsman"). She was homeported in New York City, then Boston, MA.  I am not sure, but I believe that the PUTNAM was either a Destroyer or a Hospital Ship. (3) He was also stationed at Naval Hospitals in Norfolk, VA and Chelsea, MA.


      After his retirement in 1934, he worked for the Massachusetts Maritime Commission. I am not sure what position he held there, but I believe he was involved in training certain crewmen in the US Merchant Marine. In a Letter of Appointment from the Commanding Officer, Naval ROTC Unit at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, dated 08/10/1942, he was found to be "mentally, morally, and professionally qualified" for appointment to rank of Ensign, (Hospital Corps) for Temporary Service in the United States Navy.  He had been given the date of rank as 06/15/1942.


      The rest is second hand information: My grandfather served in the Pacific Theatre of WWII.  I had been told that while assigned to the USS Rescue (AH-18), anchored off shore, he was the senior medical officer on a section of the beach head, during the bloody Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942-43. He was under enemy fire with the Marines. He contracted a painful skin disease that plagued him for the rest of his life. However, he later refused to file for any medical disability, even though he was entitled to do so.


      After the war, he was assigned to the Chelsea Naval Hospital, across from the Boston Navy Yard.   Even though the Navy offered him the Executive Officer position and promotion to Lieutenant Commander, he declined.   He had risen to the rank of full Lieutenant, and received his Honorable Discharge in 1946. I am making inquiries within my family to try to get my grandfather's SSN or Service ID number. No luck to date.


      Several years ago, I submitted a photograph of my grandfather and me in our service dress blue uniforms to the "Navy Log" at the US Naval Memorial  (Museum) in Washington, DC.  (I had served for 10 years active duty, as a Naval Aviator and 13 years in the Naval Air Reserve.)  I was able to include all my duty stations and awards with my photo, but my grandfather's photo has no record of his service displayed!  I hope to correct that. I'd appreciate anyone who could point me in the right direction  to gain access to his records.

        • Re: Seeking Navy service record information for James Joseph Kelley
          Elliot Schneider Guide



          Here is some information below. Please see dates of service on the reverse of this card. You might want to write to archives 1 since he had service prior to 1917.






          Name:James J. Kelley
          Birth Date:7 Jul 1898
          Birth Place:Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA
          Military Roster:Roster~Coast Guard
          Serial Number:101-87-80
          Residence Place:Brewer
          Comments:Enl: USN Portsmouth, N. H., Sept. 11/14. AS; PhM 2c 74 days; PhM 1c 165 days; C PhM 343 days. Served on: USS Prometheus Apr. 6/17 to Mar. 31/18; US Naval Base Hospital 5 Brest France Mar. 31/18 to May 15/18; USS Prometheus May 15/18 to Sept. 3/18; RS New York NY Sept. 3/18 to Sept. 14/18. Disch R/S New York NY: Sept. 14, 1918. Re-enlisted: Sept. 16/18 R/S New York NY; R/S Philadelphia Pa Sept. 16/18 to Nov. 1/18; 1st Regiment Marines Navy Yard Philadelphia Nov. 1/18 to Nov. to Nov. 1/18; 1st Regiment Marines Navy Yard Philadelphia Nov. 1/18 to Nov. 11/18. Continued in service.











          Hope this helps,


          Elliot Schneider

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Seeking Navy service record information for James Joseph Kelley

            Dear Mr. Kelley,


            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


            We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and medical records of enlisted men of the U.S. Navy who were separated from the service after 1885 and prior to 1958 are located at NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).  In many cases, earlier service was included in the OMPF for their final service. The staff at the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL) will check all possibilities. To request these records, please contact stl.archives@nara.gov and provide RL-SL with a copy of the information you provided in your request to History Hub. 


            The Merchant Marine Personnel and Licensing Records dated prior to 1968 in the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (Record Group 26) are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). Please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.govInclude the name, date of birth, dates of service, "Z" number, and date of death, if known, in your email.


            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


            You may also visit the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Archive webpage to inquire about information they may have pertaining to instructors. 


            We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!



            Holly Rivet


            1 person found this helpful