Cary Albert Post was born on March 18, 1916, the son of [William J.] Bryan Post and Bessie R. (Sanders) Post in Emerald Township, Paulding County, Ohio. He had two sisters, Mildred and Christina, and a brother, Clarence. Albert went by his middle name since his Grandfather was also named Cary. Albert was raised in Wayne, Michigan, and attended school there. While in school, Albert developed a love of building and carpentry work.
On September 1, 1934, Albert married Leila Elnora Williams in Angola, Indiana. Leila was born on June 27, 1914. They had three children together: Albert Darrel born on June 26, 1935; a son who died at birth in 1940; and Sharron Lei, born on January 12, 1943. Like his father, Darrel went by his middle name. Family was very important to Albert. He loved his wife, children, and extended family very much. The family lived at 30110 Greenland Road, Detroit.
During World War II, Albert worked as a carpenter, building homes for the influx of factory workers who moved to Dearborn and Livonia, Michigan. At this time he employed approximately thirty men. His particular area of expertise was roughing and finishing work.
On April 13, 1944, Albert volunteered and joined the U.S. Navy. After basic training at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, Albert was transferred to San Diego, California, in June of 1944. Before Albert was shipped overseas on the U.S. S. Halligan, a destroyer, Leila traveled to California to see him. This was the last time anyone in his family saw Albert. In late July of the same year, Albert had a goiter removed at the U.S. Naval Base Hospital in Pearl Harbor.
After returning home, Leila sold their house and business. For the duration of the war she rented a room with a friend, Mrs. Earl Rubik, who lived at 35270 Glenwood Road, Wayne, and worked as a clerk at a Montgomery Ward’s store. With her work schedule, Leila could not watch and care for her children alone. Thus, Darrel and Sharron Lei moved in with their maternal Grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Milton C. (Leila Maria Winn) Williams, and their children, Don, who was old enough that he was basically out of the house, Jerry who was called “Sonny”, and Madonna who was about the same age as Darrel. The family lived on a farm Albert owned which was located near Gladwin, Michigan. The farm consisted of two adjoining 40-acre parcels, one of which bordered on the Cedar River. Sometimes Leila would visit Gladwin and take Sharron Lei by train to visit relatives in Ohio. Darrel was in school, so he, sadly, often missed his mother’s visits. Occasionally, the children visited Leila in Wayne.
At the farm, with constant written encouragement from Albert, Darrel attended school and tried to learn everything he could about hunting, fishing, farming, skating, milking, and took care of his little sister. The break from his parents was quite painful for him, particularly when he left behind his adoring paternal Grandparents in Detroit. Sharron Lei grew up as the mischievous beloved baby of the family.
While aboard ship, Post wrote home everyday. He left innumerable requests, suggestions, and orders for Darrel to follow, cautioning him to stay away from the river, open ice, and out of trees, to say his prayers, do his homework, be a good boy for his grandparents, and care for his little sister and his Mother. He wrote to both children of his love, dreams, and hopes of what he wanted to experience and share with them after he returned from the war. Albert wrote to his wife with passion, respect for her decisions, concern for her health and well being and that of their children, as well as hopes and plans for their future and their literal dream house. At one point, when Leila’s letters were not delivered at the beginning of his tour of duty, he became almost frantic with fear that something had happened to her. Albert also was concerned about his in-laws, their care of his children, the state of the farm, their purchase of animals, planting of fields, etc. He was obviously a man used to making and implementing the family decisions and probably felt thwarted and powerless at times. The separation from his family profoundly affected him. He suffered a degree of depression as well as separation anxiety, as documented by the tone of and the anguish in many of his letters.
Aboard ship, Albert worked in the ship-fitters shop. In his letter of February 28, 1945 he noted that he was learning how to do arc [electric] welding. Albert spent his time off-duty constantly writing letters to his family, for which he was teased by some of his shipmates. While he occasionally mentions his activities or the men and events aboard, he only mentions in one sentence that he has been busy “fighting Japs.” [The U.S.S. Halligan was involved in the September 1944 invasion of the Philippines and the fighting at Leyte Gulf in October of 1944. The destroyer also bombed Tinian, in the Marianas, in February 1945, protected Marines during the invasion of Iwo Jima in February of 1945, and patrolled Okinawa and Kerama Retto, Japan, in March 1945.] The vast majority of his letters, however, are entirely concerned with his family, the farm, and their future together.
On March 26, 1945 the U.S.S. Halligan hit a mine while involved in mine sweeping activities off of Okinawa. The entire front of the destroyer up to the first smoke stack was blown off. Albert’s work station was on the front of the top deck so it is likely that he was killed instantly. Half of the crew of 300 and all but two of the twenty-one officers perished. Two ships came to assist sailors in the water or still aboard. Many sailors who survived the initial blast died later of their wounds. Many bodies, including Albert’s, were never recovered. Seaman 1st Class Cary Albert Post was officially listed in the rolls of the U.S. Navy as “Missing In Action” until March 27, 1946 when he was officially declared dead. His family was never notified as to the exact day on which Albert died.
On April 17, 1947, Leila married Duane E. Crowl, another World War II veteran, who had a son, Larry. Leila died on September 25, 1999 and Duane on January 3, 2004. Both Darrel and Sharron are married, live in Michigan, and have children and grandchildren. (This information is from the collection and discussions with Sharron Lei (Post) Smith and Albert Darrel Post.)