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World War II Honor Roll

Norris Charles Sharp

Electrician's Mate, Third Class, U.S. Navy

02443254

USS SKILL (AM-115)

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: September 25, 1943
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
Nettuno, Italy
Awards: Purple Heart

ELECTRICIAN'S MATE THIRD CLASS NORRIS C. SHARP was born around 1925 to Mr. and Mrs. Norris Sharp. His family lived on Clementon Road in the Chews Landing section of Gloucester Township NJ. He attended Haddonfield (NJ) High School for one year, then transferred to the Camden County Vocational School, where he was a student when he enlisted into the United States Navy in October, 1942.

After enlisting in the Navy, Norris Sharp received his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois, after which he was sent to complete a four month course in electricity at the campus of Purdue University in Indiana. He was assigned to a minesweeper, the USS SKILL (AM-115), along with another man from Camden County, Seaman First Class Ralph E. Batezel of Gloucester City. In his last letter home, dated September 3, 1943 he wrote that he was well and had met some swell fellows aboard ship.

The SKILL was laid down on November 28, 1941 by the American Shipbuilding Co. of Cleveland, Ohio; launched on 22 June 1942; and placed in service on  November 17, 1942, with Lt. Comdr. E. J. Kevern, USNR, in command.

After a brief shakedown cruise, SKILL was ordered to the Mediterranean Sea where she swept mines and performed other mine-warfare countermeasures along the North African coast before the invasion there. SKILL also participated in the invasion of Sicily. After the initial invasion at Salerno, Italy, she was assigned patrol and convoy duty in that area. She returned to the area from escort duty on September 25, 1943 and was assigned a patrol station. At 1140, not long after she had taken station, her forward magazine exploded. This was probably due to a submarine's torpedo because a survivor, whose station was on the bridge, later reported having seen a wake of undetermined origin paralleling the ship at a distance of about 150 yards.

SKILL was blown in half and the forward section capsized. The after half caught fire, and the flames moved aft until that section exploded and sank at about 1200. Ten minutes later, the capsized bow slipped beneath the waves. Of her 103 officers and men, none of the officers and only 32 of the men survived. Her name was struck from the Navy list on October 11, 1943. USS SKILL AM-115 was awarded one battle star for World War II service. 

Both Norris Sharp and Ralph Batezel were among the dead that day. Norris Sharp was survived by his parents, sister Ruth, then a student at Haddonfield High School, and brother Elwood, then attending Blackwood (NJ) Junior High School.  


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