Mancel May

ENC(SS) Mancel May, USN (ret), died on 31 January 2009 in Olympia, Washington, at the age of 90. He was born on 1 September 1918 in  Crenshaw County, Alabama.

Chief May enlisted in the Navy in May 1938 and was selected for submarine training. He was on the USS Spearfish (SS-190) in Manila at the outbreak of war with Japan on 8 December 1941. Fleeing the Japanese invasion of the Philipines, the Spearfish reached the Dutch Naval Base at Soerabaya (Surabaya), Java until again the Japanese bombed the base forcing the submariners to flee by train (under air attack by the Japanese) to the coastal town of Chilichap, which was also under constant Japanese air attack. Chief May transferred to the USS Stingray (SS-186) at Chilichap which proceeded to Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. After completing war patrols on Stingray and Spearfish, he was assigned to the commissioning crew of the USS Tunny (SS-281) (commissioned 1 Sep 42) and remained with the Tunny until her decommissioning in 1946.

Based on Chief May's extensive knowledge of Fairbank Morris diesels he was selected by Captain Hendrix for the commissioning crew of the USS Tiru (SS-416), the U.S. Navy's most modern submarine. He served as Chief Engineman on Tiru from pre-commissioning in 1948 until May 1951. His talk on his recollections of his Naval Service at the 2006 Tiru Reunion will be remembered by all present.

(click here for an article written by Chief May detailing his early WWII experience)

After retirement from the Navy in February 1959, Chief May worked in the Real Estate business and with the Washington Department of Natural Resources & State Parks. He was active in the VFW, Masons, and numerous naval organizations.


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