Tom was in the Navy. He joined in 1941. He served on the USS Williamsburg in the North Atlantic in 1942 and 1943 in Iceland and Northern Ireland. He took PT Boat Training in early 1943 in Melville, Rhode Island. The photos that I sent you are probably from this time, when he was on leave and sped down from Rhode Island to Connecticut to visit his sister and his future wife and his future best man, Vito Melfi.
After PT Boat Training, Tom served in the South Pacific in Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 8 in New Guinea and the Philippines, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf. During his time in the service, he was an electrician, or “fireman”. He left the Navy with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
My father never spoke of the war when I was a child. He was your typical WWII veteran. He did have a few scars on his body. My father’s three scars were nothing compared to our neighbor across the street on Knickerbocker Avenue. Mr. Mace was a handsome man and you would never suspect it. But when it was a hot summer day, he would go out and mow his lawn without his shirt. His entire trunk was one big horrific scar from his war experiences. He never spoke of it. Of course, the neighborhood kids would also never ask him about it. I was told by other adults – of course not in detail but only “It was the war” – why the skin on his stomach, chest and back was so damaged.
Back to Tom Hanley: after leaving the service, Tom continued his calling as an electrician – his father, Thomas Hanley Sr. was also an electrician. He was a union man but I do not recall the number of his Local Union in Stamford. Two of my brothers would know, as they became electricians as well. Tom was also prominent in local Stamford sports activities. In the 50s and 60s, he was a Little League and Babe Ruth League coach and manager of numerous teams. In 1960 (may have been 1961), he was the District Commissioner for Little League Baseball in Connecticut. Through my father I actually met Jackie Robinson and Andy Robustelli. Tom was also a longtime member of the Springdale Volunteer Fire Company, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. Although all of this happened so long ago, I am certain that there are many Stamford citizens left that will remember him.
Claire was a WAVE (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in the Navy. She joined in 1943. She was trained at the Hunter College Campus in the Bronx as a Medical Technician. She spent most of WWII stationed in California but at the end of the war was transferred to Honolulu, Hawaii helping American P.O.W.s in Hawaii.
As related by her cousin, Dan Hanley:
Claire Doyle Finn was born in 1922 in Andover, Mass. She spent her childhood in Lawrence, Mass. She died April 18, 1997 in Maine. Claire was Thomas J. Hanley, J.r’s first cousin.
Claire was a WAVE (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in the Navy. She joined in 1943. She was trained at Hunter College Campus in the Bronx as a Medical Technician. She spent most of WWII stationed in California.
At the end of the war, she was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, helping to tend to American POW’s after their return from Japanese held territory. The U.S. Military insisted on keeping the former POWs in Hawaii for month,s so they could recover and look somewhat presentable upon their return to the States. Most of them had been starved and beaten.
Claire was recalled to duty in 1950 during the Korean War. After that conflict ended she worked as a laboratory technician. She married William Finn of Boston in 1954. Claire and Bill remained married until her death in 1997.
Photos Courtesy Dan Hanley
The Hanley Family as related to us by Dan Hanley Spring 2006
Catherine Brennan McVey Hanley
The Dog in the Background