I never knew about my dad’s [Paul Dayton] military rank until I found it in a news clipping as I was researching him. Paul was the Navy’s equivalent of an Army Sergeant. He was a 1st Class Petty Officer. There are four grades of Petty officer, 3rd class being the lowest and Chief Petty Officer being the highest. The Army equivalent would be a Corporal or Sergeant depending upon which grade of Petty Officer you were.
Paul worked on technological improvements to the recently invented RADAR and had told me that the Navy regarded the men in his unit [aviation bomber training unit] to be more elite than the naval pilots. Apparently, the military top brass viewed their pilots as expendable; it was a high casualty assignment, but Paul had so much electronics training and skill that he was too difficult and costly to replace. The naval officers treated the men in his unit in high esteem. They rewarded the men, including dad, by allowing them to promote themselves. For example, dad’s head of his unit let the men promote themselves to the rank each man felt he deserved. Most became Chief Petty Officers, but you know dad. He promoted himself to 1st class, instead of chief. Chief would have meant more money, but dad was realistic about the matter.
Here’s a story which demonstrates the knowledge and creativity of dad’s unit. They solved an electronics problem which Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] scientists declared impossible to solve. MIT was so impressed that they send a contingent of scientists to dad’s unit to review the problem’s solution and how they went about solving it. I don’t know what dad individually accomplished on that project, but his colleagues were the best in the world at what they did. I imagine that dad was right in the middle of it all. He never talked about it because he didn’t want to brag. He was too humble.
After the war, dad was offered a lucrative contract in the Philippines by Philco Corp, but dad chose to return to the Adirondacks. Shame on me, but I cannot find that Philco offer letter anywhere. I used to have it and I’ve lost it.