PRAIRIE GROVE was a so-called T2 tanker, built in June-October 1944 by Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Chester, Pennsylvania. She sailed under several names until she was broken up and sold for scrap in 1984. Also see http://www.t2tanker.org/t2-history.html for general information about T2 tankers.
For more details about your brother's service record, military records of veterans who served after 1900 are available through the National Archives, specifically from:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
Information on obtaining a veteran's military record can be found on the following National Archive web pages:
Assuming you can obtain your brother's service records and assuming they list all the ships on which he served, you can identify the ports to which he sailed by returning to the National Archives. The Archives has custody of a wide range of records relating to warships, merchant ships on which Armed Guard units served, and other Navy units for the period from World War II through Vietnam, with a heavy concentration in World War II records. You would probably be particularly interested in Armed Guard logbooks and reports, action reports, vessel movement report cards, and records of individual convoys.
To learn more about the scope of these materials and to request records for a given ship, write to the following address:
Modern Military Records Unit (NWCTM)
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
In your letter, include the names of the ships, the date/time period of interest; your full name, address, and telephone number; and as much other detail as possible about the information you would like to obtain. Due to the volume of requests received and the time needed to identify all appropriate records, Archives staff requests that you limit your request to five items per each letter. Allow approximately 10 – 12 weeks from the initial inquiry to receipt of the records.
A charge will be imposed for reproduction/mailing of the records, however do not send any cash/check/charge card information with your initial inquiry. Archives staff will review your request and mail to you an estimate of the cost and payment information. Follow the directions contained in that letter to order the desired records.
The website warsailors.com lists a number of convoys in which the SS PRAIRIE GROVE sailed:
Convoy CU 47, departed New York Nov. 15,1944, arrived Liverpool Nov. 26.
Convoy UC 47A, departed Liverpool Dec 1, 1944.
Convoy CU 52, departed New York Dec. 26, 1944, arrived Liverpool Jan. 7, 1945.
Convoy UC 52B, departed Liverpool Jan 12, 1945.
Convoy CU 58, departed New York Feb. 11, 1945, arrived Liverpool Feb. 22.
Convoy UC 58A, departed Barry, England, Feb 25, 1945.
Convoy CU 62, departed New York March 15, 1945, arrived Liverpool March 27.
Convoy UC 62A, departed Liverpool March 31, 1945.
Convoy CU 66, departed New York April 16, 1945, arrived Liverpool April 28.
Convoy UC 66A, departed Barry, England, May 2, 1945.
Additionally, the website Ancestry.com, which is more commonly used for genealogical research purposes, provides access to databases of passengers arrivals in various U.S. ports of entry between 1820 and 1957. Included in this database are the names of Armed Guard and merchant marine crew members whose ships arrived in those ports during World War II. Making a search at Ancestry.com for your brother's name, I discovered records of his arrival in the port of New York on several occasions.
I found that the SS PRAIRIE GROVE arrived in New York on December 12, 1944, having sailed from Liverpool on December 1, 1944. Among the Armed Guard crew on this ship was seaman 1st class Leroy W. Kenton, age 19, presumably your brother. The rest of the Armed Guard contingent was as follows:
Anderson, Harold Charles
Antoneo, George, Jr.
Audette, Bernard Joseph
Bishop, Harvey Dighton
Chase, Richard Hamilton
Fonderlin, Harold Wayne
Garber, Walter William
Hague, James Richard
Humenic, Edward Richard
Jones, Bert Tillery
Kennison, Robert Chesley
Kuklock, Alvin Jerome
Lane, Francis William Lt.(j.g.)
Matlak, Victor Bernard
Monaco, John Silvio
O'Brien, Phillip E. Lt.(j.g.)
Perrone, Anthony Ernest
Remer, Robert Gordon
Ruggles, Franklyn Velmore
Stephens, Ernest J.
Terebesi, John Albert
Thomas, James Francis
Whitfield, James Thomas
Lane and O'Brien both held the rank of Lt.(j.g.) and were the officers in charge of the Armed Guard crew. The others listed above held ratings of seaman 3rd class, seaman 1st class, gunners mate 3rd class and gunners mate 2nd class.
The SS PRAIRIE GROVE arrived in New York again on January 23, 1945, having sailed from Liverpool on January 13, 1945. Most of the same Armed Guard crew listed above were on this voyage as well (Lt. O'Brien was replaced by a Lt. Kimmins), including your brother. Personnel on this voyage not found in the above list include:
Karpinski, Donald William
Kimmins, John R. Lt.(j.g.)
More, Richard Jerome
Finally SS PRAIRIE GROVE arrived in New York on February 7, 1945, having sailed from Curacao in the West Indies on February 1, 1945, with Leroy Wayne Kenton as part of the Armed Guard crew, which was identical to the crew that had arrived in New York on January 23.
I do not know whether any of the men listed above are still living, nor do I have contact information for any of them.
Leroy Kenton also arrived in New York on February 15, 1944, as a member of the Armed Guard crew of the SS BENJAMIN CHEW, and also on April 30, 1944, and again on July 2, 1944, as a member of the Armed Guard crew aboard the SS NORBRIS. If you are interested I could provide the names of his shipmates for the July 2 arrival but the crew lists for the other two voyages are nearly illegible.
I hope this information is useful.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard website www.armed-guard.com