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MENNEN, Richard & Dixie

MENNEN, NORVILLE

Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 4/28/2016 at 17:19:09

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mason City family wants to return keepsake 60 years later
by John Skipper

MASON CITY — When Richard Mennen of Mason City was a young Navy man, he served in both World War II and Korea.

An incident that occurred overseas more than 60 years ago continues to captivate his wife, Dixie, who will be 90 next month, and son, Paul, who now lives in Chicago.

During the Korean War, Richard Mennen was aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Rendova when a young sailor he knew as “Rocky” Norville approached him and asked if he had any money.

The sailor explained that his father had died suddenly back in the states and he needed money to get home but didn’t have enough.

Dixie, in recounting the story Wednesday, said, “Richard told him he only had $5 but told Rocky he was welcome to it. Rocky took his wristwatch off and tried to hand it to Richard in exchange for the money. Richard said he didn’t want it and refused to take it.”

That night, as Mennen was preparing to go to sleep in his bunk, he found Rocky’s watch on his pillow.

Rocky was gone and never returned to the ship. He had been given a hardship discharge.

Mennen didn’t know Rocky’s real first name or much about him except he thought he hailed from North Carolina. He kept the watch and wore it occasionally, said Dixie, but mostly kept it in a drawer, perhaps with the hope of finding Rocky Norville someday. He never did.

Mennen died in 2008.

Dixie Mennen still has the watch and wants to return it to Norville or someone in his family. “Even if he is no longer alive, his family deserves to have the watch and to know the story that goes with it,” she said.

Paul Mennen is helping his mother with the search, but they don’t have a lot to go on.

“Here’s what we know about Rocky Norville,” said Paul. “He was either from South Carolina or North Carolina. I think he was from Rocky Mount, North Carolina — hence the nickname Rocky. But I’m not sure.”

Mennen said he has searched the Internet for clues and is in the process of contacting newspapers in North Carolina to help with his quest. He also has an old photo of Rocky that someone gave his dad years ago at a ship reunion.

He has posted the photo on Facebook and has gotten some responses.

Dixie said someone contacted Paul and laid claim to the watch. “Paul asked him what branch of the service Rocky had been in — because that information had not been told. The man said, ‘Army,’ and Paul said, ‘sorry’.”

Paul has also searched in vain on genealogy websites to try to find a Norville in North Carolina who died in 1951 or 1952 — Rocky’s father.

He is hoping that somehow, someway, he will locate the Norville family. In the meantime, Dixie Mennen keeps watch over the watch.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2016


 

Cerro Gordo Documents maintained by Sharon R. Becker.
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