Raymond J. Kragness Papers

1943-1946, 2002, 2004; 1943-1946
Manuscript Collection #1186
Physical description
0.25 Cubic Feet, 1 container, consisting of newsletters, photographs, post cards, certificates, invitations, tickets, membership cards, directory
Preferred Citation
Raymond J. Kragness Papers (#1186), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

The bulk of the Raymond J. Kragness Papers (1943-1946, 2000, 2004) pertains to Mr. Kragness's service in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre in World War II aboard the USS Escambia. Personal items include rites of passage membership cards (such as crossing the Equator), draft board notification, photographs, post cards of San Francisco Bay, course certificates, separation from service records and a brief family history. The remaining items pertain to his service on the USS Escambia, a fleet oiler. Included are the ship's history and directory, newsletter "Eighty Times," a list of ships fuled by the USS Escambia, plans of the day, congratulatory messages from Admiral Halsey, and invitations and tickets for commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies.

Biographical/historical information

Yeoman 2nd Class Raymond Jerrond Kragness (1924-2011) was born on 26 April 1924 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Melvin Olaf Kragness and Selma Louise Halstenson. His father Melvin Olaf Kragness (23 October 1903 – 26 January 1983), originally from Norway, worked construction, sold coffee, drove oil trucks, and drove for a wholesale grocery company in Minneapolis, MN. Raymond J. Kragness enlisted in the Merchant Marine in May 1943 serving aboard the USS Escambia AO-80 Tanker throughout its service in WW II. He married Maxine Bishop Widing (28 June 1926 – 04 July 1972) on 19 December 1970 in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Raymond J. Kragness died at the age of 87 on 25 November 2011 and is buried at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

The USS Escambia was the first of eight Escambia Class Fleet Oilers, commissioned by the Navy on 28 October 1943, supplying the Third Fleet throughout the course of the war, fueling a total of 389 ships during her service. The USS Escambia was decommissioned on 20 February 1946.

Scope and arrangement

This collection contains records of Raymond J. Kragness' naval service in the Merchant Marine during WW II aboard the USS Escambia AO-80 Tanker.

Records documenting daily shipboard life include a directory pamphlet of the USS Escambia; plans of daily duties; five issues of "The Eighty Times" which was the official newsletter of the USS Escambia; membership cards and certificates for initiation ceremonies for rites of passage across the Royal Domain of the Hawaiian Islands (15 December 1943), the Equator (Domain of Neptunus Rex) (11 March 1944), and the International Date Line (Realm of the Golden Dragon) (7 February 1944); and a Certificate of Plank Ownership from the USS Escambia (1943-1946). Kragness's official service records include documents indicating separation from service, veteran benefits, and assistance in readjusting to civilian life (1946); a card authorizing Kragness to wear certain ribbons for his service in the Navy (15 November 1945); invitations and tickets to both the commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies; as well as training course certificates, his Draft Board Notice, and liberty cards (1943-1946).

The collection also contains official documents relating to the history of the USS Escambia from her construction, commissioning, service during the war including a list of ships she fueled, and her decommissioning (1943-1946).

Other items included are thirty-nine photographs of Raymond J. Kragness during and after his service (1943-46, 2004), postcards of San Francisco Bay, CA (1943), a pencil sketch of Kragness drawn by Kenneth Hackett (undated), and a Western Union telegram from Raymond to his parents notifying them of his return home (25 February 1946).

Along with the documents relating to Kragness' service this collection contains genealogical information about Raymond J. Kragness and his family (undated), service records of the USS Mississinewa, and documents from the National Personnel Records Center about Melvin Edward Harner (undated).

Administrative information
Custodial History

November 20, 2011, .25 cubic feet; Papers (1943-1946, 2000, 2004) relate to Raymond J. Kragness's service in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II, specifically his time spent aboard the fleet oiler USS Escambia. Included are various materials concerning the USS Escambia such as a ship's history, plans of the day, messages of congratulations from Admiral Halsey, issues of the ship's newsletter "Eighty Times," a list (including dates and locations) of ships fueled by the USS Escambia, a directory of the ship, and invitations and tickets to commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies. Items related directly to Mr. Kragness's service include certificates for training courses, separation from service records, photographs (most in uniform and a few aboard ship), post cards of San Francisco Bay, his draft board notification, membership cards indicating that he has been through such rites of passage aboard ship as crossing the Equator (Domain of Neptunus Rex member) and crossing the International Date Line (Realm of the Golden Dragon member) and a brief family history. Donor: Kurt J. Kragness

Source of acquisition

Gift of Kurt J. Kragness

Processing information

Processing was completed by Mateusz Polakowski on November 24, 2015.

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Harner, Melvin Edward
Kragness, Raymond J., 1924-2011
Kragness, Raymond J., 1924-2011--Family
Corporate Names
Mississinewa (Tanker)
United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps
Tankers--United States

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Official records (1944-1946) of Raymond J. Kragness' service on the U.S.S. ESCAMBIA. 12 items
Box 1 Folder b Official records (1944-1945), consisting of five issues of "The Eighty Times," (1944-1945, undated) the official newsletter for U.S.S. ESCAMBIA. 5 items
Box 1 Folder c Official records (1946, undated), consisting of separation from service records of Raymond J. Kragness. 13 items
Box 1 Folder d Official records (1943-1945), including Navy training course certificates, Draft Board notice, invitations and tickets to U.S.S. ESCAMBIA Commissioning and Decommissioning ceremonies, liberty cards, photograph of Raymond J. Kragness, and clippings. 13 items
Box 1 Folder e Documents and membership cards (1943-1944) indicating that Raymond J. Kragness has been through rites of passage aboard the U.S.S. ESCAMBIA such as crossing the Equator and the International Date Line. 6 items
Box 1 Folder f Photographs(1943-2004, undated) of Raymond J. Kragness during his time in the Navy, and one photograph of him in 2004. 38 items
Box 1 Folder g Printed material related to the U.S.S. ESCAMBIA, including a list of ships fueled (Nov. 1943 - Nov. 1945) and website information about the ship's history, and reunions (2000). 2 items
Box 1 Folder h Postcards (1943) of San Francisco Bay, California, one of which has correspondence from Raymond J. Kragness to his parents. 5 items
Box 1 Folder i Official records (2/5/2004, undated), including a history of the U.S.S. MISSISSINEWA and documents from the National Personnel Records Center about Melvin Edward Harner. 2 items
Box 1 Folder j Raymond J. Kragness genealogy (undated). 1 item
Box 1 Folder k Card (11/15/1945) authorizing Raymond Jerrond Kragness to wear certain ribbons for his service in the Navy; Western Union telegram (2/25/1946) from Raymond J. Kragness to his parents, notifying them that he will be coming home; a pencil sketch (undated) of Raymond J. Kragness drawn by Kenneth Hackett. 3 items