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Marlowe native, 92, recalls World War II

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The Journal

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. — Raymond Hardt says he learned the true meaning of hard work while in the U.S. Navy.

A Marlowe native, Hardt, 92, served from 1943-1946.

Marlowe native Raymond Hardt, 92, served from 1943-1946. (Journal photo)

“In the Navy, we didn’t get that hand-to-hand combat. I didn’t see a lot of blood and guts in the war, but that doesn’t mean what I did there wasn’t important,” Hardt said.

Hardt was drafted into the military when he was only 18. He had just graduated from Martinsburg High School.

“I’ll be honest, I can’t remember much, but I do remember that day,” Hardt said. “As soon as I got off that stage on graduation day, recruiters were waiting close by to hand me my enlistment papers. From there, I went to basic training and joined the Navy shortly after.”

Raised on a farm most his life, Hardt said the adjustment to military life was difficult.

“It was definitely a shock to me when I was drafted, I was just a country boy, born and raised on an apple and peach orchard,” Hardt said. “I had never left home before, and I felt like I was in a whole new world.”

After basic training, Hardt was asked to become an electrician for the Navy.

In 1944, he attended Iowa State College for a16-week course in Battleship Electronics.

“I was sent to school for electronics including radar training,” Hardt said. “After I graduated from there, they sent me to San Diego, where I boarded my first troopship. That’s when my seaside duty started.”

From there, Hardt and his crew boarded the USS General Omar Bundy (AP-152) in early 1944.

When Hardt reported to his ship, he said the war was pretty much at it’s peak.

“We were right in the middle of everything, so it was intense. But, to me, this was the best duty that a man could get in the Navy,” Hardt said. “Our ship was fast. One of the fastest even, with around 3,500 troops on board. I worked in the electronics control room and monitored the ship’s activity day and night. I really enjoyed it.”

From there, Hardt spent some time overseas.

“Our ship traveled from San Francisco to Manila in the Philippines, to Thailand, all the way back to D.C., back and forth–back and forth,” Hardt said. “I even got to take people out of Germany and Japan. That’s where I think my love of travel came from. This was a good duty for anybody because you really got to see the world.”

Hardt said because of his time in service, he was able to have a wide latitude of career choices.

“My love for engineering really came from the Navy, so I decided to go to school after I got out,” Hardt said.

In 1951 Hardt received his associates degree for electrical engineering from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.

He also received electronic engineering certificates from Hagerstown Community College in the late 60’s.

Hardt then worked at the former DuPont property in Falling Waters for more than 30 years.

Once Hardt retired, he got the opportunity to travel the world with his family. He traveled frequently with his wife Carolyn.

“We have been married for 30 years and have done quite a bit of traveling in those years,” Carolyn said.

“Traveling was very much both of our passions. We loved to cruise, we used to do it every year. With our church, we also did many construction mission trips doing a lot of work in South America, Mexico and even Thailand.”

Now, Hardt said he doesn’t travel much due to his health, but said he hopes to visit with his children in the future.

“We have a pretty big family and they are all scattered, from New Jersey to Florida and Texas and even California,” Carolyn said. “We have seven grandchildren and now three great-grandchildren, so it would be great to hopefully visit family soon and see them all again.”

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