If he spoke of being in Russia, the only conclusion would be that he participated in a Murmansk Run, as you suggest. A list of U.S. merchant ships that took part in the Murmansk Run at least once is found at http://www.usmm.org/murmanskships.html. This list is of little use to you at this point but if you are able to obtain your father’s military service record, you could cross-reference any ships in which he served against this list. Neither of the two ships that I found him serving in is on the list.
I was able to find what I believe is your father’s obituary, at http://wujekcalcaterra.tributes.com/obituary/show/Pasquale-O.-Paolella-95571029. I notice that the funeral home guestbook includes an entry about his World War II Navy experience, specifically “ … he won the Purple Heart for his bravery in helping to shoot down 3 Japanese bombers on September 17, 1943.” This of course would suggest Armed Guard service in the Pacific prior to his first voyage aboard EDMUND F. DICKINS. However, there is a bit of a logical inconsistency here. It seems highly unlikely that he would be able to cross some portion of the Pacific Ocean on his previous ship, go through whatever administrative processing would have been necessary, and report aboard EDMUND F. DICKINS – in seven days. I have him aboard that ship as of September 24, 1943, per my most recent message.
Do you or your siblings know anything more about his Purple Heart award? And do you know when he enlisted in the Navy? He would have been 16 years old at the time of Pearl Harbor, based on his date of birth.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website