Ancestry.com found Grady Charles Laxson as part of the Armed Guard detachment aboard Liberty ship JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING on a lengthy voyage that began in Los Angeles in June 1943. Interestingly, Grady Laxson was not aboard the ship when it departed Los Angeles but rather joined the crew in Calcutta, India, on September 3, 1943. (Another Armed Guard crewman joined the ship in Calcutta on September 4, and yet another Armed Guard sailor had come aboard in Bombay on August 14, 1943.) Obviously Laxson (and the other two Armed Guard crewmen) must have gotten to India aboard a different ship or ships, prior to the arrival of JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING. It is possible that they had been left behind due to hospitalization, following rescue from a ship lost in the Indian Ocean, or for other reasons. (Similarly, one member of the merchant crew of JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING was hospitalized and left behind in Calcutta and another crewmen was hospitalized and left behind in Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. They would have eventually hitched a ride aboard some other ship(s) that arrived in port following the end of their hospitalization. Three other merchant sailors joined the crew of JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING later in Capetown, South Africa.)
JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING made an epic journey. The ship departed Los Angeles on June 7, 1943, and arrived Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on July 7, departing there on July 12, and arriving Bombay on August 5. She made calls at Calcutta and at Colombo, then crossed the Indian Ocean to Port Elizabeth and Capetown, South Africa. Thereafter she crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil, arriving at Bahia on an unspecified date and departing on November 11, 1943. She arrived New York on December 6, 1943, after a voyage of about six months. She may have called at additional ports as well during her voyage.
As noted above, Grady Charles Laxson must have sailed in at least one other ship prior to joining the crew of JOSIAH NELSON CUSHING and, since the above record ends in November 1943, it is likely he served in one or more other ships subsequently. However I am unable to locate any other such records for him at Ancestry.com. Patrick Prattís best option is to try to obtain the official service record for Grady Laxson by contacting the National Archives and Records Administrationís National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. See this page from the Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website, http://www.armed-guard.com/searchmil.html, in particular section II.A.1 - Records of Individuals - U.S. Military. Mr. Pratt will have to provide as much identifying information as he and his family have (I believe that Mr. Pratt is a son-in-law of Mr. Laxson). Assuming Mr. Pratt is not next of kin to Mr. Laxson (next of kin = parent, spouse, sibling, child), it would be best if the official request for Mr. Laxsonís service record were made by a next of kin, presumably Mr. Prattís wife. Next of kin will receive a more extensive record than someone not next of kin. There will be a charge for research, photocopying and mailing of documents, but the staff of the National Personnel Records Center will provide an estimate before beginning work.
Craig, do you have a way of transmitting this information to Mr. Pratt? I had posted this same answer to the same question on your US Navy Armed Guard WWII Facebook group a few days ago.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website