Guest of Honor

 


It was December 7, 1941, when Mr. Jack D. Maroney was downtown getting his usual, a donut and coffee, and thinking about UT’s big 71-7 win over Oregon, when he heard America was at war. The very next day, Mr. Maroney, a 16-year-old freshman at the University of Texas, cut class to stand in line with a few hundred men to sign up for the U.S. Army. To his dismay, he was turned down because of his young age.

One day in 1942, Mr. Maroney went to see the movie “To the Shores of Tripoli,” where John Wayne played the role of a Marine. He thought how good-looking the Marine uniform was and that it could probably attract some young ladies, so he decided the Marines was a perfect fit.

Just prior to his 18th birthday, Mr. Maroney joined the Marine Corps and was selected for the Fleet Marines. While stationed in Washington State, he saw the U.S.S. Enterprise in dry dock, he knew right then that he had to be on her crew, thinking of her as “The Queen” - but once again Mr. Maroney felt he missed out when he was unable to get orders in time to join the Enterprise before she took to sea. But then something great happened as his Sergeant approached him and said, “Maroney you still want to get on board the Enterprise?” With eagerness, he moved at double time to pack his bag and hit the gangplank.

Mr. Maroney was the last Marine to join the U.S.S. Enterprise in 1943 when it sailed out of dry dock to the South Pacific. While attending a reunion in the early 1980’s, a fellow Marine told Mr. Maroney that in 1943 he was on liberty when he became intoxicated and passed out, causing him to miss formation to board the Enterprise. Coincidentally, this slip-up resulted in the slot opening for Mr. Maroney.

Life on the U.S.S. Enterprise was exciting. Mr. Maroney was a 20MM anti-aircraft gunner and experienced a number of enemy attacks. During one attack, a Japanese aircraft impacted the U.S.S. Enterprise at the waterline, directly below Mr. Maroney’s 20MM, and lodged into the hull. He watched in awe as the water rushed by and began dismantling the aircraft over the next few hours. During another attack, an enemy aircraft swooped in low and fast, dropping a 500-pound bomb on the deck. The bomb bounced off the ship’s island and came to rest in an uncomfortably close proximity to Mr. Maroney. He quickly hit the ground only to find out moments later that it was a dud. Two sailors on the ship ran over to the bomb and rolled it over the edge of the flight deck. Following another kamikaze attack the flight deck severely damaged the ship and the ‘Lucky E’ was out of action. The U.S.S. Enterprise returned to dry dock in Washington. Soon after, news came out that the U.S. had won the war in the Pacific.

Mr. Maroney left the Marine Corps in 1945 as a Corporal and acting Sergeant. He returned to Dallas, married his high school sweetheart, and completed his undergraduate degree. He then completed his Law Degree from UT and worked as an Attorney in Austin for many decades. He and his lovely wife are still happily married and later this year will be celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary.