The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
LT(jg) Jerry Flynn was once called "the most visible person on the ship". Enterprise's L Division officer during the second half of the war, he also coached the ship's basketball team and emceed practically every social event of importance aboard ship: from boxing "smokers" to U.S.O. shows. His shipmate Will Norberg (Chief Yeoman in K Division) kindly provided this article for the site.
"Jerry Flynn". The name conjures up good images: a witty Irishman, a sailor's officer, an encourager, an emcee par excellence.
This is our Jerry of U.S.S. Enterprise, where he served as a Lieutenant (jg) in the Gunnery Department. Who can forget his good-natured bantering with Admiral "Blackjack" Reeves, when the latter had a bit more of Jerry's tongue than he thought proper, and remarked: "Flynn, this ship isn't big enough for the two of us!" A short week or two later, as the Admiral was being piped over the side for a new assignment, Jerry fired a parting shot: "Well, Admiral, as you said, one of us had to go!"
Less well known is the "Room 102" incident. That was Jerry's quarters in the Big E. The ship was in Pearl Harbor and, coincidentally, so was the Irish tenor of that day, Dennis Day. He was on the island to give a command performance for Admiral Nimitz.
As fate would have it, the two Irishmen, Jerry and Dennis, wound up in Room 102 and as the "sauce" was poured, the Irish lilts got louder and rowdier and poor Dennis developed a choice case of laryngitis to the extent he had to cancel the Admiral's concert. Of course there was nothing to do but for Jerry and Dennis to head out to Honolulu to drown their sorrows in their favorite libations. Jerry's comments on the affair: "Well, ours was a better party anyway."
Mel Hofer recalls another side of Jerry:
"My personal relationship with Jerry, aside from his chiding me about my boxing ability (or lack thereof), came as a result of standing Quarter Deck watches when he was Officer of the Deck (O.D.). It seemed every time I pulled the watch he was O.D., with one exception. Once I had the watch prior to his, but when my relief did not show up, I was still on watch when Jerry arrived for his stint. "You again?" he inquired, and I went to explain the circumstance for my presence. As I had missed the chow line, and the galley would be closed by the end of the watch, Jerry got on the hook and ordered food sent up to me, which I gobbled down in the O.D. compartment as traffic permitted. He also put on report the guy who was supposed to relieve me."
This photo shows Commander Bill Martin of Night Air Group 90 reveling a bit on Christmas Eve 1944 in the officers' wardroom, while to his immediate right (with cigarette in hand) is Admiral M. B. Gardner, awaiting his turn at the podium. As for Jerry, he's like a naughty boy - consigned to the far corner.
Jerry, of course, was emcee for that event, as well as most any other get-together aboard the E and, most particularly, the hangar deck smokers we all enjoyed so much.
That was 50-plus years ago. Since then, Jerry served as Sports Information Director at the Naval Academy for three years and then returned to his home town, Rochester, New York, for a career in sports broadcasting as well as brightening the lives of thousands upon thousands of upstate New Yorkers as toastmaster at assorted events.
The tables were turned on emcee-Jerry in October 2001 when Rochester honored him as "Roastee". Needless to say, he not only enjoyed every minute of it but managed to hold his own in the repartee.
Jerry operates on a more leisurely schedule these days, enjoying his four children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. A throat cancer survivor, he finds time to speak to teens, with the aid of his electrolarynx, on his colorful past that included too many years of tobacco use. Additionally he visits with cancer patients and their families, providing encouragement at a time when it's most needed. It's apparent where the man's heart's interests lie - in serving his fellow man.
Jerry hasn't forgotten his raisin' as just a few months ago he messaged a Big E gathering "... to say hello to all the old gang."
Jerry - we haven't forgotten you either. May the wind always be at your back!