Their parents were John Augustus Wellings and Bridget O’Sullivan Wellings. Mr. Wellings was a railroad man all his working life. An injury to his leg meant early retirement. His granddaughter Anne recalls he was a very cheerful man who ran a tight house. I can guess these qualities were instilled in his children along with self-discipline. There were three sisters as well: Eileen, Marguerita and Gladys. In birth order, the boys were: Augustus Joseph or “Gus”, Timothy Francis, Joseph Harold (Harold to his wife and Gus to his Navy buddies), and Albert Aloysius. I’ll begin with the elder Gus.
Gus was born on February 3, 1897 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. In 1916 he joined the US Naval Academy at Annapolis as a midshipman where he played football and rowed crew. Gus saw action in World War I as he served on board the USS Rochester and USS Pueblo for Atlantic escort duty. In 1919 he became an Ensign, moved to the USS Virginia, then on to the USS Arizona where he served until 1921. He attended torpedo training in Newport, Rhode Island and moved on to the USS Arkansas where he remained until 1924. He earned a Master of Science in Ordnance Engineering at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1927, then served on board the USS Utah until 1930. The Navy Yard was calling and he served shore duty for a couple of years before joining DESRON 1 (Destroyer Squadron 1) in 1932, a scouting force, and remained here until 1935. In 1937 he joined the battleship California as a Gunnery Officer until taking command of the USS Arctic in 1939.
As of May 1940 though, he reported to Bethlehem Steel where he served as the Inspector of Naval Material. In 1942 he became Director, Inspection Administration, Office of Procurement and Material, Executive Office of the Secretary, Navy Department in Washington, D.C., and was promoted to Commodore. This assignment lasted from 1942-1945, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious” service, and received a letter of commendation. November of 1945 he became Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, and coming with this assignment was the rank of Rear Admiral. In lieu of a second Legion of Merit, he was awarded a Gold Star and letter of commendation.
Between 1947 and 1948, Gus assisted in construction of the Eniwetok Atomic Proving Ground in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, operation SANDSTONE. Gus became Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Transportation in 1948. Later, he took on Navy Member on the Munitions Board Petroleum Committee, 1949, then Vice Commander, Military Sea Transportation Service, Washington, D.C. Between 1951-1953 he was Commander Amphibious Training Command, US Atlantic Fleet where his HQ was Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia. Amphibious Group TWO was next on his command list, then the Office of Naval Materials, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. until retirement in July of 1954.
Awards he received were: the Legion of Merit with the Gold Star and Commendation Ribbon; WWI Victory Medal, Escort Clasp; American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; American Campaign Medal; WWII Victory Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
Gus and his wife Rose had two children, Augustus J. Jr, and Rose. He passed away after a battle with cancer on November 29, 1956 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Next time, Timothy Francis Wellings.