Tag Archives: V-12 and Officer Training

Gretchen Ream and Robert Hess – 1945


Robert and Gretchen wedding announcement Feb. 1945

On 14 Feb 1945, Robert Hess proposed to Gretchen Ream. Gretchen was 19 years old. Robert was 20 years old. As the article above states, Robert was a V-12 trainee in the University of Michigan Engineering School. The date of Robert’s entry into active service had been 1 July 1943. Gretchen and Robert had met in 1943, so they actually waited to become engaged. In 1943, Robert’s residence was at 426 Hamilton Place, Ann Arbor, MI and Gretchen lived with her mother at 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor.

At the time of their engagement, our country was still involved in WWII which we had entered the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. In 1945, Gretchen was a secretary for Economy Baler Co.

APRIL 1945

On 1 April 1945, Easter Sunday, the photo below was taken of Gretchen and Robert having fun with a bike and a wagon. It was one of Robert’s favorite photographs.

with text Gretchen and Bob Wagon Easter Parade 1945

On 10 April 1945, Gretchen’s brother Robert Ream received a Purple Heart after his leg injury.

On 13 Apr 1945, Gretchen and Robert attended the Slide Rule Ball at the Michigan Union. She saved her dance card, autographed by the entertainer Louis Prima and his band.

Senior Ball 1945 Robert and Gretchen Hess (1)

On 21 April 1945, Robert and his brother George Hess graduate from the University of Michigan with honors.

1945 Engineering

MAY 1945

10 May 1945 – this article is about Gretchen’s brother, Robert Ream who was receiving the Oak Cluster.

Robert Ream news article wounded twice


On 2 November 1945, Robert Hess was appointed an Ensign in the US Navy.

Midshipman Graduation

Robert Hess served as Junior Division officer, main engines division, on a heavy cruiser at sea and later as auxiliary Division officer on a pair of light escort carriers.

On 30 November 1945 and 8 December 1945, Helen Mayer (Gretchen’s Aunt) hosted bridal showers.

Bridal Shower

On 15 December 1945, Gretchen and Robert were wed.

Invitation to wedding of Robert and Gretchen 12.15.1945

Robert and Gretchen Hess Dec 1945 wedding cake

On 16 Dec 1945, Robert and Gretchen began their honeymoon. I am fairly sure that their residence was 719 Oakland Ave., Ann Arbor, MI (see 1947 Ann Arbor Directory below- note that in 1947 George and Ruth Hess lived at 1107 Oakland Ave.)

719 Oakland


1945/1946 photos of the U.S.S. Oregon City (heavy cruiser) and of the shakedown at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Reserve. All photos below were scanned from print copies owned by Robert Hess who served as an Ensign.

Robert Hess Navy from April-May 1946

Robert L. Hess, my father, was an Ensign on the U.S.S. Oregon City. In this blog, I share pictures that I scanned from a photo collection that my father owned.  I believe that some of these photos were taken by my father. It is possible that he also obtained some of these photographs from another unknown source/person. Enjoy this glimpse into history on the U.S.S. OREGON CITY and also the photos taken at their 1945/1946 shake down at Guantanamo Bay Naval Reserve.

The Oregon City sailed from Boston  on 31 March 1946 for shakedown at  the Naval base on Guantanamo Bay, then returned to Boston in mid-May.  The photos from my father’s collection that were taken at Guantanamo Bay are all captioned “April-May 1946.”

My father, Robert L. Hess, enlisted in the U.S. Navy’s pre-officer training (V-12) while he was still in High School in Benton Harbor, MI. He entered into active service on 1 July 1943 and was assigned to the University of Michigan where he earned two B.S.E. degrees from the Engineering College in 1945. He was then assigned to the Midshipman program at Columbia University. He was commissioned as an Ensign in October of 1945.  He married my mother, Gretchen Ream Hess, in Ann Arbor on 15 December 1945.

He was assigned to the USNRMS (United States Naval Reserve Midshipman’s School), at Columbia in New York where he took his officer training.

During his Naval career, he served on the USS Oregon City (CA-122), the USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108) and the USS Manila Bay (CVE-61.)

img330 USS Oregon City


img331 USS Oregon City

img327 USS Oregon City

img328 USS Oregon City

img329 USS Oregon City

img334 USS Oregon City



img337 USS Oregon City

img339 USS Oregon City

img338 USS Oregon City

Guantanamo Bay parking area April to May 1946

Guantanamo Bay outdoor chairs and tables naval reserve 1946

img342 USS Oregon City


USS Oregon City sun bathing

with text Robert Hess Spring 1946

img973 USS Oregon City

img974 Oregon City

img975 U.S.S. Oregon City

img976 Oregon City

img977 Oregon City

img978 USS Oregon City

img979 USS Oregon City

img980 USS Oregon City


img983 U.S.S. Oregon City

img984 U.S.S. Oregon City

img985 U.S.S. Oregon City

img986 U.S.S. Oregon City

img988 U.S.S. Oregon City.jpg

img989 U.S.S. Oregon City

img991 U.S.S. Oregon City


img992 commissioning of the USS Oregon City