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.