Fairhope, Ala. (WKRG) — Tom McClellan joined the Navy as a young man in 1945–knowing the war was still raging in the Pacific.
“Went to boot camp, San Diego. I was in there in boot camp when the A-bomb was dropped on Japan,” he said.
At the time, McClellan had four brothers already serving in the war—three on Navy ships in the Pacific—and one brother who had served the entire war in the Army—and in the Pacific. Of his Army brother, McClellan said, “he says it was always hot and we were always hungry.”
Being in the military at the time the atomic bomb was used during the war may have seemed shocking to some, especially since McClellan had brothers serving in the Pacific.
But McClellan said, “I knew it was about over and especially speaking by phone with my mother—she was elated.”
McClellan said he joined the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army—and to follow tradition. His father served in the navy in the Great White Fleet.
“The Great White Fleet is the one that toured the world–showed the flag—sixteen battleships,” said McClellan.
McClellan served as an aircraft mechanic while in the Navy—he spent some time stationed on a floating barracks.
“Even though I was on it for a year in Chesapeake Bay–it never left Chesapeake Bay,” he said.
He also served at several Naval Air stations around the world, working on airplanes.
When he got out, McClellan went on to a career in civilian aviation–and racing motorcycles. Music is a hobby too, playing harmonica in a pickup band in his Fairhope neighborhood.
And now Tom McClellan is this month’s Serving Those Who Serve hero.