I spent some time this morning at the RHPL doing a little research into my late father's life during WWII. I didn't know much aside from family folklore. One such tale involved the renaming of my father's ship in Panama so that it could get through the canals after a rowdy shore leave. I knew the name of his ship (originally launched as the SS Surprise out of a Tampa shipyard, then renamed and renamed again as mentioned above), I knew the years he served, and I knew I had some pictures of him during the war years that didn't involve him or some of his shipmates with their arms around topless girls in grass skirts; after I discovered those and asked my mother about them, the pictures mysteriously disappeared.
The Mt. Baker was an ammo ship used to transport munitions primarily in the Atlantic. I'm piecing bits together by looking at time lines to see where he might have been during a given campaign. I know now that at the time he was supplying ships in the north Atlantic waters, the seas were rife with German U-boats. He sometimes spoke about places he had been during the war, including North Africa and southern Italy. There's a chance he was part of the 1400 vessel assault on Sicily. In the winter of 1944, he shipped out of San Francisco carrying supplies and mail to men in the south Pacific theatre.
I've had an idea for a story based on him for a while. I'm just waiting for it to gel.