McCarthy's escapades chronicled

Valle Vista resident Jim McCarthy shows a page of “America’s Youngest Warriors” in which he appears for having managed to join the Navy at age 16.
TERRY ORGAN/Miner

Valle Vista resident Jim McCarthy shows a page of “America’s Youngest Warriors” in which he appears for having managed to join the Navy at age 16. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

Jim McCarthy could not wait to turn 18 to get into the military, so he joined in February 1944 at age 16.

"In my first attempt, I was rejected because I failed the color-blindness test given in New York City," he said. "Two weeks later, I went to register for the draft in Yonkers, New York, and told them I was 18.

"When I went for a physical, I remembered the numbers from the earlier color-blindness test and passed it, even though I could not see them."

"I was granted immediate induction into the Navy and sent to boot camp at Sampson, New York. I had to take another physical there and passed the same color-blindness test and that put me in the Navy."

McCarthy's story on his brief military service is related in three pages of the second edition of America's Youngest Warriors, a book published in Tempe by Veterans for Under-aged Military Service.

U.S. Congressman Bob Stump has 1-1/2 pages devoted to him in the first edition for his Navy service at age 16.

After boot camp, McCarthy was assigned to the light cruiser USS Vincennes in Boston. He went to work in the machine shop as a fireman apprentice.

The Vincennes and sister light cruisers, USS Miami and USS Houston, left Boston and rendezvoused with the cruiser USS Indianapolis in the Atlantic. The four ships sailed through the Panama Canal and on to Pearl Harbor.

At Pearl Harbor, the Vincennes, Miami and Houston joined three carriers and a number of destroyers to form Task Force 58, McCarthy said. The group sailed for Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, where they picked up mail before heading to Tinian.

"Our planes bombed the Japanese installation on Tinian and then we sailed on to Saipan," McCarthy said.

He was aboard the Vincennes for 4-5 months and off Saipan when he was summoned to the cabin of the ship's executive officer.

"He said, 'I've got a letter here from your father, who says you're 16 years old,'" McCarthy said.

McCarthy confessed it was true. The XO asked him if he wanted to stay or go home and McCarthy said stay. About two days later, the XO notified McCarthy he was being sent home.

He transferred to the battleship USS Maryland, which was headed for Pearl Harbor to have torpedo damage to its bow repaired. Wounded sailors from other ships also went aboard.

McCarthy said he was put aboard a troop ship at Pearl Harbor and sailed to San Diego in late summer 1944. His paperwork was lost for a time and he stayed in San Diego for about a month before receiving his discharge.

McCarthy later was with the Nassau County (N.Y.) Police Department as a patrol officer for 10 years.

He and his wife moved to Valle Vista and he ran for Mohave County Sheriff on the Republican ticket in 1964, but lost.

McCarthy's longest period of employment was with Ford Motor Co. He began as a driver at Ford Proving Grounds in Yucca, worked his way up to supervisor of safety and security and, after 28 years, retired in 1991.