World War II Navy Radio
Norm Dalling Story
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NOTE - This is a re-creation of Rob Flory's original site which crashed some time ago - unfortunately some photos are still missing but most of the text is here - if you can help with any replacement photos, please send e-mail to Rob or to Nick K4NYW

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Navy Radio Career of Willard Norman (Norm) Dalling.


By Rob Flory


Norm started his radio career as an amateur in 1932, licensed as W3BLN.  He held that call the rest of his life.


In July 1935 he went to sea as 3rd Radio Operator on the SS Scanstates out of Jersey City, NJ and owned by the Moore-McCormack Company.  It had a 5kw spark transmitter as well as an RCA HF rig that he reported worked very well on 40 meters.  After serving the required 6 months aboard ship, he received his 1st Class Radiotelegraph license.


Norm joined the Naval Reserve in 1937 and was made a Radioman Second Class


(RM2/c).  During his career as a Merchant Radio Operator he served aboard 2 tankers and one freighter.  He quit going to sea when he married in 1939.


On his second wedding anniversary in spring 1941 he was called to active duty and reported to Naval Air Station(NAS) Lakehurst, NJ (callsign NEL).  He checked in one afternoon and the next morning was manning one of the radio circuits, which he said made him sweat a little as he had had very little training in Navy procedures.  He never went through boot camp but with the help of the Bluejacket’s Manual and the “regular” Navy men he got up to speed on general seamanship and other military requirements.


While at Lakehurst he operated on circuits between Lakehurst(NEL), Philadelphia Navy Yard(NAI), and NAS Cape May, NJ(NCR).  He also installed and debugged equipment in a new transmitter building with another Radioman, maintained radio gear on the 3 planes that were assigned to Lakehurst.  He made Radioman 1st Class while at Lakehurst, and because their station was the only one that did not require civilian contractors to come in to get the transmitters going, Norm and the other Radioman who helped him install the transmitters were both promoted to Warrant Officer.


After promotion to Warrant Officer, Norm was assigned to NAS Midway Island (callsign NQM).  He served there for 13 months as Radio Materiel Officer, having oversight of all the radio equipment on the island. 


Norm’s last wartime duty was on USS Kitkun Bay, CVE-71, an Escort Carrier, also known as a baby flattop or a jeep carrier.  He supervised the Radiomen and the Radio Technicians.  Most of the time he spend in the Communications Office(cryptographic room) or in Radio II where the transmitters were located.  He taught classes on troubleshooting and emergency repairs for the Radio Technicians.  Supervision of Radio Central was directly under a Chief Radioman.


While aboard USS Kitkun Bay, he participated in several major invasions, and the famous battle at Leyte Gulf in October, 1944.  Enroute to the invasion at Manila in January 1945, the ship took a kamikaze hit and Norm helped destroy the cryptographic equipment before abandoning ship because it was not believed that the ship would stay afloat.  The salvage party managed to save the ship and he reboarded the ship with the rest of the crew the next day.


After the war, Norm remained in the Naval Reserve until 1955.  His post-war employment was with the Burroughs Corporation and with Ford Motor Co.  He also ran a clock repair business.


I met Norm through chance via the Internet, and kept correspondence with him for a couple of years.  His intelligence, which was sharp as a young man’s, his technical interests in radios and clocks, and his personality, reminded me of my grandfather, which made him A number 1 in my book. 


Norm Dalling passed away in 2005.