Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

December 3, 2013

Lexington memories: Couple deliver lifetime of history from World War II carrier

ENID, Okla. — Tina Pulis and her husband, Chuck, traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas, Tuesday to deliver a lifetime of history to the USS Lexington Museum.

Pulis’ uncle Bryan was stationed aboard the USS Lexington between 1931 and 1933, and the things he left behind when he died will make a great addition to the history of the Lexington, an aircraft carrier that saw service in World War II.

The USS Lexington CV2, nicknamed “Lady Lex,” was an early aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy. She was the lead ship of the Lexington class. Her only sister ship, the USS Saratoga, was commissioned a month earlier. The carrier originally was designed as a battle cruiser but was converted into one of the navy’s first aircraft carriers.

When Bryan died, Tina Pulis found things in his home that Bryan had kept and never thrown away, including his old baseball uniform from the Lexington baseball team and many other items, along with some newspaper clippings.

“He never threw anything away. He was a hoarder,” Pulis said. “I felt he should have thrown some of them away. I called the Lexington and they wanted it,” she said. “It will make a display.” They will receive authentication papers for all of the items the Lexington museum uses. “We’re thrilled,” she said.

The pieces they are donating from Jennings Bryan Williams, her uncle, include hundreds of newspaper clippings concerning the Lexington, hundreds more pictures and a baseball uniform, along with many other historical pieces from the ship. She also has several pieces from a Japanese plane that was shot down, which she cannot identify. The original Lexington was sunk in battle and a new one built  about 1942. The museum is on the “new” ship, she said. Her father, Isaac Wayne Williams, also served aboard the Lexington, and eventually became the Navy recruiter in Enid. Both Bryan and Isaac retired from the Navy. Another brother, Tommy, also served in the Navy, but was not aboard the Lexington.

In addition to the baseball uniform, there is a baseball autographed by the Lexington team, which won the All-Navy baseball tournament about 1933 or 1934, she said.

There also is an autographed picture with the signatures of the players.

“We saved his glove, cleats and one of his baseball uniforms, which says “All Navy” on the front of it,” Tina Pulis said. The pieces also contain an invitation to a dance on the ship dated Aug. 3, 1931.

“The historian, Cecil Johnson, was thrilled to hear from us. Cecil wanted everything Navy, which would include my dad and his memorabilia,” she said. Both brothers were listed as a boilerman.

Pulis’ father boxed for the Navy, but lost the fight prior to going to the Mexico City Olympics. They have kept a pair of his boxing gloves, which they also are donating.

The family lost some of the memorabilia in the 1973 Enid flood, but did salvage those sparring gloves, she said.

Both of the brothers were at Pearl Harbor, but Pulis does not know if they were together. The USS Lexington CV2 was badly damaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy on May 8, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, and later was scuttled.

Pulis said she recognizes the history of the pieces and her husband, a former Marine, encouraged her to keep them and supports making the donation to the Lexington museum in Corpus Christi.

Jennings Bryan Williams was not a man to let go of the past. And in the items he saved, he created a link to one of the greatest historical periods in American history.

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