Ned Stokes February 12 2013, 0 Comments

Contributed by: Jack Kopstein recently received a note from Mr. Ned H. Stokes of Pittsburgh, PA in the comments section of a blog post. “In 1938, I was privileged to play in the "All Master High School Band Festival" at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA at which Percy Grainger was the featured guest conductor. At that time, Dr. Goldman was in his prime as a renowned bandmaster. It would have been an excellent addition to have him direct the concert along with Percy Grainger. I am now 90 years old and still have that program signed by Percy Grainger. Dr. Goldman made an appearance, directing the massed marching bands on Saturday March 7, 1938 at which time I obtained his autograph as well.” 

Ned at 15 years old in the Southmont High School Band uniform in Johnstown, PA with his beloved Buscher trumpet. He said about his trumpet, “an excellent make and it had a beautiful tone quality.” Contributor and World Military Band’s site administrator, Jack Kopstein, wrote to Ned or as he calls himself Old Geezer Ned:” Please accept my sincere thanks for writing and for your generous offer. It would be an honour for me to see your wonderful autographs. I would like to also reprint your information on my website as your story is magnificent. To have met two giants of the band world on the same concert is a great occasion...   Ned Responded shortly after with this wonderful letter: “Mailed today the copies of program booklet from Band Concert with autographs by Percy Grainger and Edwin Franco Goldman. Also included picture of that 15 Y.O. kid with his trumpet. The trumpet playing ended when that same 19 Y.O. had to join the Navy in 1942 to help fight a war (WW2)to defeat Hitler and Hirohito. (We did it.) Problem was, on a US Destroyer, 365 ft. long and 30 ft. wide, and a crew of 325 men, you don't practice your horn with 2/3 of the crew sleeping. Possibility of having to swim from Europe, or Med. Sea, back to the states. So, result was a lost 4 years of practice. So ended aspirations of being a renowned band leader. Thus, I became a good mechanical engineer and an excellent Tenor Soloist. (Father was a pianist and organist & mother was a trained contralto who sang opera and trained her 24 y.o. (year. Old) (sic). Son to sing. Hope that clears up my story in a "nut shell." The package proved to be treasure trove of historical information.  Also valued was Ned’s card, which stated he was Member Veterans of Foreign Wars – WW2-Sicily, Normandy, and South France & Okinawa Invasions. He is truly a hero who gave up his musical career to go to war.

Here, Ned (second from the left) is seen in 2006 at the Shubrick-Duncan reunion in Washington, D.C. Later, Jack called Ned to discuss his career and to get more of his background. He originally came from Johnstown, PA, where members of his early family were killed in the devastating flood of 1889. He began playing trumpet at an early age and his music teacher and band director, Mr. Billman, arranged to have four of his students invited to attend the "All Master High School Band Festival” in May of 1938, held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA.  Ned recalled, “The greatest thrill that year was the opportunity to play under the direction of Percy Grainger,  a famous composer, and Edwin Franko Goldman, the most renowned band director of the times.” It was following the concert that Ned was able to get the autographs of both the guest performers.

Ned joined the United States Navy in 1942 and was posted to the USS Shubrick (DD-639). USS Shubrick, a Gleaves-class Destroyer, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral William B. Shubrick. The USS Shubrick was laid down on February 17, 1942 by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk, VA and launched on April 18, 1942. After completion of repairs and refresher training in January 1944, USS Shubrick made two convoy runs to Europe and back before joining the Normandy bombardment group in Belfast. After escorting battleship Nevada (BB-36) and five cruisers to the Normandy beaches, USS Shubrick took her own fire support station and, at 05:50 on June 6, opened fire on her pre-assigned targets. She continued her fire as the troops landed, then checked her fire at 06:30 to avoid hitting friendly forces. She remained off the Normandy beaches for over a month. Ned returned to civilian life after the war and became a professional engineer and is now retired, living in Pittsburgh, PA. Our hats are off to Ned Stokes, musician, trumpeter, veteran and a member of “The Greatest Generation” worthy of an American salute.