Dear Folks - I am glad to say that I am near the dear old States and will have a chance to write you again. We are still at sea, but think we will hit port tonight. We certainly had a fine trip down the coast of California, and it was very nice until we got so far south, then the heat was fierce and it rained every day. It was great sport, however, to sit aloft and watch the flying fish and many other strange things.
We reached port after nine days at sea. I had the four to eight watch and got on deck just in time to see the ship leave the first lock of the Panama Canal. It is sure a great piece of work. In some places it looks like they had blasted away great mountains of rock. I wish I had a camera and been allowed to use it, for I could have secured some great pictures. We passed through three locks on the Atlantic side.
The next day we coaled ship, or rather the negroes did, for they did most of the work. That night about six o'clock we pulled to sea without getting any liberty ashore for which we all hoped. We are now four days at sea, along the Atlantic coast somewhere.
I hope to get to port soon and will write you again.
In December 1917, Hershall sent his parents the menu from the warship's Christmas Feed, saying "They have cooked a big dinner and all we have to do today is to lay around and eat."
Oyster Stew & Croutons
Prime Roast of Beef, au jus
Roast Turkey & Raisin Stuffing
Potatoes a la Queen & Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Saute of Sweet Corn & Asparagus Tips in Mayonnaise
Hot Mine Pie, Fruit Cake, Assorted Fruit, Candy
Cigars & Cigarettes
ONE OF THE first of Sheridan's young men to go off to war, Hershall Donahue had just turned seventeen years old when he enlisted in the United States Navy. The son of former Kendrick Cattle Company ranch manager Jack Donahue, Hershall was evidently a fine specimen of manhood, The Sheridan Post noting that he "passed the physical examination with an almost perfect showing."
After completing basic training, Hershall was assigned to the USS San Diego, where he served as a Fireman 1st Class. After the armored cruiser was sunk ten miles off the coast of New York's Fire Island in July 1918 (the only major American warship lost during the war), Hershall was transferred to the USS Pueblo, an escort ship for convoys crossing the Atlantic.
Hershall was honorably discharged from the Navy in March 1919. He returned to Sheridan, where married, raised family, and died in 1978. The letter reprinted here, mailed from an "undisclosed location," appeared in The Sheridan Post on August 31, 1917.
State Historic Site
(From In the World War)