Thursday, April 7, 2016

In Memoriam: Welland T. "Doc" Shoop

By Joseph Miechle
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Educator

Editor's Note: The following post was to have been released as a personality feature about Welland T. "Doc" Shoop, who was to receive an award for 12,000 hours of volunteer service, more than any in the Hampton Roads Naval Museum's history, during the HRNM Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on April 14.  Sadly, he became ill on March 30 as he was preparing for his normal volunteer duties aboard USS Wisconsin and passed away the following day.  

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is fortunate to have a dedicated team of docents who enthusiastically represent the museum.  One of the most dedicated was the venerated Welland T. Shoop, or “Doc,” as he was most often called. He had always wanted to join the Navy and spoke to a recruiter in December, 1941.  The recruiter advised him to come back after Christmas because it would be a long time before he would be able to spend another with his family.  Doc took his advice and enlisted on December 26, 1941, beginning what would become a naval career spanning 33 years.

As a Pharmacist's Mate 1st Class temporarily assigned to USS Wisconsin (BB-64) in 1947, Welland "Doc" Shoop would have expanded and converted one of the battleship's wardroom tables into an operating table during an attack or after an accident.  Thankfully he never had to during an actual emergency, but Shoop showed that until the end, he and his equipment were still ready if need be.  Sadly, he passed away on April 1. (Photograph taken in March 2016 by M.C. Farrington)

Volunteer service for Doc began in 2002 with the battleship Wisconsin here in Norfolk, VA.  Doc was initially unaware that the ship had been berthed next to the Nauticus National Maritime Center (also home to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum) and when he found out, came down for a visit.  He found out from the museum's volunteer coordinator, Tom Dandes, about the many opportunities for docents aboard the ship and once again volunteered for naval service aboard USS Wisconsin. 

It was in fact not his first tour aboard the storied ship.  Doc Shoop first sailed aboard USS Wisconsin as a reservist on a “summer cruise” in 1947 when the ship left New Jersey for the Caribbean.  He learned some important lessons very quickly on that cruise. He was the senior person left in charge of the sick bay one night when the medical doctors went ashore for liberty. The shore patrol brought aboard a Sailor who had been injured ashore while on liberty and required stitches to close a wound.  Doc administered anesthesia and proceeded to sew up the wound with the help of another petty officer and knowledge he had gained from his studies.  Nobody involved spoke of the incident for the remainder of the cruise.
USS Ault (DD-698) photographed during the mid-1950s.  Shoop picked up his moniker "Doc" as an independent duty corpsman aboard the destroyer from May 1953 to September 1955. (Naval History and Heritage Command Image)
Doc Shoop also saw service aboard a wooden hulled minesweeper in the Great Lakes and aboard the destroyer USS Ault as a chief petty officer when he made an “around the world” cruise. He was aboard the latter ship when it collided with the destroyer USS Haynsworth off the coast of Japan during training maneuvers. 
Welland "Doc" Shoop's personal decorations from World War II as well as the wars in Korea and Vietnam include an Air Medal earned during his service at Naval Support Activity DaNang, Republic of Vietnam, where he led aerial spraying missions to mitigate the numbers of mosquitoes plaguing troops on the ground.   
Doc also saw service in Vietnam when he was assigned there and took over the job of mosquito abatement. This underrated job saw that the sailors and soldiers operating in the jungles of Vietnam would not be effected by diseases such as malaria carried by these insects.

Doc was then assigned as the administrative officer at Preventive Maintenance Unit 2 in Norfolk Virginia and later was assigned to the Naval Supply Center and identified some deficiencies which he quickly rectified.  He was approaching his 30 year mark and the Admiral in charge of him encouraged him to stay Navy for another five years.  Doc declined as he disliked Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and his new leadership style.  He retired from active duty in 1974.  He retired a second time from the City of Portsmouth at the age of 65 after working in public safety.

The jobs aboard USS Wisconsin changed a bit for Doc over the years.  His vision was not what it used to be and this made it a bit more difficult for him to maneuver in his old ship, but he still happily assisted the Nauticus staff members with tours inside and stood watches when asked.  In April of 2016 Welland “Doc” Shoop was to be presented with an award for more than 12,000 hours of dedicated service to the museum.  This is more than any other docent or volunteer.  He has also been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for the President's Call to Service program.  When asked about this impressive accomplishment, always humble, he replied, “All in a day's work."  

The majority of information in the above article was gained from an interview conducted with Doc on March 23, 2016.  On March 30 as Doc faithfully prepared to report for duty aboard Wisconsin, he fell ill and subsequently passed away on April 1. The museum has lost one of its most valuable and irreplaceable assets in the death of Doc Shoop, as well as a dear friend. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Stanley salutes as the casket of retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer Welland “Doc” Shoop, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s longest-serving docent in terms of hours served, is removed from a hearse by members of the Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) Honor Guard at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, VA, on April 6, 2016.  Shoop was almost a daily fixture aboard the museum ship USS Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk since he began volunteering at the museum in 2002.  Shoop, who was 94, first experienced the life of a battleship Sailor aboard Wisconsin in 1947.  He was to receive an award on April 14 for the 12,000 hours of service he has contributed since becoming a docent at the museum in 2002, the most by any docent in the museum’s history.  (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
From HRNM Director Becky Poulliot:

Two years ago, Doc reached the pinnacle of HRNM Volunteer Success--the 10,000 Hour Award.  He was honored during the annual volunteer dinner with a shadowbox containing mementos of his service to the museum and to the battleship.  In typical fashion, Doc was humble about his accomplishments, yet truly touched and grateful for the acknowledgements and the present.  
Doc was a happy man.  He could do many things to promote the cause of naval history, and do them well.  He was the type of person that you wanted to be around-you could learn from him, and it was fun.  Doc set a high bar for himself--when he suffered a stroke some years back, most thought he would never recover.  But not only did he recover, he continued to thrive!  He returned triumphantly to the next volunteer dinner, wheeled in by his son, to the sound of applause.  Doc promised that he would be out of that wheelchair and return back to his museum watch.  He kept that promise.
Members of the Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) Honor Guard carry Welland “Doc” Shoop to his final resting place at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, VA, on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, followed by family and friends.  The World War II and Vietnam War veteran and retired navy chief warrant officer was the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s longest-serving docent by number of hours served. He was to receive an award on April 14 for the 12,000 hours of service he has contributed since becoming a docent at the museum in 2002.  All told, Shoop accrued over 12,200 hours during his time as a docent, the most by any volunteer in the museum’s history, mainly aboard the battleship Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk where he first served as a Navy Pharmacist’s Mate in 1947. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington) 
At this year's volunteer dinner, there will be an empty seat--but knowing that Doc lives on in memories and in the instruction he gave each of us, makes his legacy the ultimate triumph.  Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.
Construction Electrician 2nd Class Gabriel James, Yeoman 2nd Class David Baxter, and Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Christopher Torres fire a salute during the memorial service for retired CWO4 Welland "Doc" Shoop at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, VA, as Boatswain's Mate Seaman Cardell Mason looks on. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington) 

Electrician's Mate 1st Class Joshua Stanley of the Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) Honor Guard presents the flag that draped the casket of Welland “Doc” shoop to his son David T. Shoop as other assembled family members and friends look on as military honors are rendered on April 6, 2016 at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, VA. Shoop, a retired Navy warrant officer and veteran of both World War II and the Vietnam War, was to receive an award on April 14 for the 12,000 hours of service he has contributed since becoming a docent at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in 2002.  All told, Shoop accrued over 12,200 hours during his time as a docent, mainly aboard the battleship Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk, where he first served as a Navy Pharmacist’s Mate in 1947.  (Photograph by M.C. Farrington) 

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