It was World War II, with the Allied and Axis powers clashing across the globe. Lucia Tabutt and her five children were on a Navy destroyer, the USS Holton, sailing to Japan.
They were travelling to meet her husband, Robert, a Chief Petty Officer, already stationed there. Lucia and her children were on the upper deck, with airplanes, trucks, and battalions of Marines below.
“I’d never been on the ocean,” she says. “I was scared.” While Lucia was just getting used to being at sea, a storm kicked up. Then it got worse. Then still worse. In fact, it was reported to be one of the most violent storms in 30 years.
The ship tossed from one side to another as it rode the waves. “I was so scared,” Lucia says. “For some reason, I decided to take a shower – I don’t know why.”
When the ship pitched to one side, the water was cold, and when it pitched to the other side, the water was hot. “I jumped out of that shower fast,” Lucia says, laughing.
Finally, they landed at Yokohama, Japan, where Lucia’s husband met them. They flew from Yokohama to the Naval Base at Yokosuka. Then it was on to Sasebo, by train.
Lucia and her family spent two years in Sasebo. Her daughter, who was 16, and her two boys, also teenagers, went to school there. “Japan was my favorite of all the countries I lived in,” she says.
After Japan, the family PCS’d to Hawaii and then Guam – and a whole host of other countries. “When my husband was stationed in Timbuktu,” she says, “I went with him and with all of my children.”
In all those countries, wherever she found herself, Lucia volunteered with the Society. “I worked in the thrift stores mainly,” she says, “but I also helped raise money during the fund drives.” She liked volunteering, being part of the Society, and doing her part to help the Sailors and Marines.
In addition to the Society, Lucia also belonged to the Navy Wives Club of America. In fact, she’s a past president and lifetime member.
The Navy has been Lucia’s life, just as it was for her husband. “My husband loved the Navy,” Lucia says. “Sometimes, when he’d let out a word I didn’t like, I’d say, ‘Robert!’ And he’d tell me, ‘I’m a Sailor!’”
Lucia and her husband were married for 60 years. He served in the Navy for 20 years, and she was by his side the whole time. When he died, Lucia began struggling financially. She needed help making ends meet, so she came to the Society. And because of your generous support, we were there for her.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Lucia says. “I was thankful that the Society was able to help me at that time in my life.”
And today at 95 and a Navy widow, Lucia still says, “If I didn’t have the Society to rely on, I wouldn’t be able to live here. I’d be on welfare.”
With the Society’s help, Lucia’s able to stay in her own home and remain independent. Your generous giving makes that possible, and Lucia is grateful. Taking care of our own means helping the widows of Sea Service members. Because they served too.