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Vance Davidson Stonestreet

"A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace."

Theodore Roosevelt

Vance Davidson Stonestreet was born May 12, 1923, in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia, according to his draft registration card. He was found by the 1930 Federal Census taker living with his parents, Albert Stonestreet and Lillie Grace (known as Grace) Rose Stonestreet. The family was joined by Mary Rose, the mother of Grace. None of Albert Stonestreet's other children were listed. Vance Stonestreet's half-siblings-Pearl, Raymond, Rozella, Tilman, Henna, and Albert Jr.-were not listed with the family. The older children were born during an earlier marriage between Albert Stonestreet and Nora Hammond Stonestreet. The marriage ended when Nora died in 1914. Albert was married a second time to Edna Bartlett before his marriage to Grace Rose, a registered nurse, in 1921. The marriage to Edna Bartlett seems to have ended in divorce since Albert is listed as divorced, instead of widowed, at the time of his marriage to Grace Rose.

Margaret Stonestreet Snell, a sister to Albert Stonestreet, was living with Albert Stonestreet and his children between the marriages to Edna and Lillie. Margaret Stonestreet was listed as Albert's wife, but she appears to have been his sister, since her name and age matches that of a person listed in an earlier census as his sister. Her own marriage certificate, to Jonathan Snell, notes that her residence was with Albert Stonestreet and also lists the same names of her parents as Albert's marriage certificates list as his. It appears likely that the 1920 census taker made a mistake by listing her as his wife.

Albert Stonestreet, listed in all census records in which he appears as a barber, died in 1935 in Huntington, West Virginia.

Vance Stonestreet is listed in a 1941 city directory for Huntington as a mechanic. He married Janie Skean of Kenova, West Virginia, though the date is uncertain since a marriage certificate was not found.

Vance is next found in available records in Texas, where he registered for military service on June 30, 1942. He was unemployed, and living in Fort Worth. That December, he was enlisted as a Navy reservist.

Vance Stonestreet's name appears on muster rolls for the USS Portland from April 1943 through the quarter ending 1 October 1945. He was listed in the aviation unit as an aviation machinist's mate (AMM).

AMMs, according to a World War II military historian, would be required to "assemble, service and repair airplanes and airplane engines. Splice aircraft wiring. Know principles and theory of flying." (C. Peter Chen, "US Navy Enlisted Ratings," World War II Database, accessed 26 March 2019,

The USS Portland was sent to the Pacific Theater, where the ship and her crew engaged in many of the storied naval battles. A summary of the ship's engagements follows:

Her first actions were in the Battle of Coral Sea (May 4th - May 8th, 1942) which saw a combined U.S.-Australian force meet the enemy Japanese. Portland made up one of the nine Allied cruisers partaking in the battle which ended as a tactical Japanese victory but an Allied strategic victory. USS Portland was used to defend the carrier USS Yorktown and claimed survivors from the doomed carrier USS Lexington-the battle marked the first carrier-versus-carrier engagement in naval history.

During the Battle of Midway (June 4th - June 7th, 1942), USS Portland was once again called to defend Yorktown and later moved to escort USS Enterprise during the Guadalcanal Campaign (August 7th, 1942 to February 9th, 1943) before the end of the year. During the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 12th - November 15th, 1942), Portland suffered serious damage from an enemy torpedo but not before helping to repel the Japanese force, reinforcing American positions by having 7,000 of her own troops go ashore and using her guns to bombard enemy positions. Her damage took her out of action for the next six months as repairs were had in both Sydney and San Diego.

By the middle of 1943, USS Portland was repaired, refitted and back in action, pressed into combat service across the Aleutian, Gilbert, Marshall, Mariana and New Guinea campaigns. In October of 1944 she participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 23rd - October 26th, 1944) which led to a decisive Allied victory (a combined U.S.-Australian force was once again used). Some 24 Allied cruisers took part in one of the biggest naval battles in history. ("USS Portland,", accessed 29 March 2019,

The muster rolls place Vance Stonestreet on the ship during 1943 and 1944, and so he can be assumed to have fought in the campaigns listed for that time period.

According to the World War II Database,

From 3 Jan to 1 Mar 1945, Portland covered the landings at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. Portland entered Manila Bay on 15 Feb 1945 and bombarded the south shore of Corregidor in preparation for landings there. She returned to Leyte Gulf on 1 Mar 1945 for repairs and replenishment, having seen five months of continuous action.

From 26 Mar to 20 Apr 1945, Portland conducted shore bombardments of Okinawa in support of the Allied landings. At Okinawa, Portland endured twenty-four air raids, shot down four Japanese aircraft, and assisted in downing two others. From 8 May, she provided artillery support for ground forces on Okinawa, departing on 17 Jun 1945 for maintenance at Leyte. She returning [sic] to Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 6 Aug 1945 and where [sic] she remained conducting shore bombardments for the next nine days until the war ended. (David Stubblebine, "USS Portland," accessed 29 March 2019,

The USS Portland returned to duty without Vance Stonestreet, who drowned on May 6, 1945, according to the muster roll for the quarter ending October 1, 1945. The log records that day as the day of his death, but research did not reveal the circumstances. A cenotaph for Vance Stonestreet stands in Greenlawn Cemetery near Clarksburg, West Virginia, which says that he was buried at sea. Vance Stonestreet is also memorialized on the USS Portland monument dedicated to the memory of those men who served on board, including those who died November 13, 1942, at Guadalcanal, and those who died at Eniwetok on February 21, 1944. Vance Stonestreet is listed last on the list for May 6, 1945, Okinawa, with no others. The monument stands in Portland, Maine, the city for which the ship was named.

Marker for Vance D. Stonestreet, Greenlawn Cemetery, Clarksburg, West Virginia. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Another cenotaph memorializes Vance Stonestreet in the Honolulu Memorial in the Tablets of the Missing, where he is recognized as an AVN Machinist's Mate 3C, USNR, CAL. Vance Stonestreet's aunt, Lucinda Rose, was the only West Virginia woman to have died in service during World War I. His half-brother Tilman also served in the Navy during World War II.

Article prepared by by Cynthia Mullens
February 2019


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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