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When I was a Navy Judge

Oscar & movie stars

Navy judge Oscar Roloff, left, with movie stars and, on right, the winner of the Mrs. U.S. Navy contest, Mrs. Beverly Ellis.
Photo courtesy of Paramount Studios.

Oscar Roloff by Oscar Roloff
In going over my five years of monthly copies of The Naval Recruiter magazine on file, I ran across a contest I'd been involved in bringing to a successful conclusion.
   We were asked to find ways and means to stimulate recruiting and give applause to Navy wives, who often suffer pangs of stress due to much traveling here and there with their spouses.
   As members of the Fleet Reserve Association and in uniform, we got together an idea to present a "Mrs. U.S. Navy Contest," to be held ultimately at the Wilton Hotel in Long Beach, California. We asked each worldwide U.S. Naval District to select one winner. Wives would be asked to write essays about why they were proud to be a Navy wife, plus other requirements.
   Each local winner would be flown to the contest headquarters. I was asked to serve as a judge, representing the brass at Washington, D.C. and was flown out to California to enjoy my hotel site. I'd also represent three military magazines. Each arriving local winners and judges was assigned a chauffeur-driven white Cadillac convertible to take us where we wanted to go.
   A number of warships were ordered to the port to have both groups come aboard as special guests for lunch and tours of the ships. My former boss in D.C., Capt. Bill Starnes, now executive officer of a heavy cruiser, invited me aboard for lunch. Had a nice reunion.
   Paramount Studios in Hollywood invited us to take a tour of the studio and have lunch at the special dining room where we met many of the big stars.
   After we judges selected the final winner, Secretary of the Navy Charles Thomas placed the "Crown" on the head of Mrs. Beverly Ellis, a real regal lady and an asset to the Navy.
   Upon return to D.C., I flew back in his private plane with Admiral James Holloway, Chief of Naval Personnel. Earlier, he had commended me for my journalistic endeavors. Then it was back to the mundane task of publishing The Naval Recruiter magazine.
   Our effort had paid off, upped recruiting and reenlistments, and produced a more happy group of Navy wives. When my five years ended in D.C., I'd finished my 20 years and retired at age 37. Since then, there has not been another such contest.
   The other day, I asked the Navy Department to supply me the address of our selected Mrs. U.S. Navy, stating I wanted to contact her to see what had happened to her during her past reign as our winner.
   Today as I sit here, I wonder how in the heck such a former dumb farm kid ever became involved in such high-rise endeavors. Still hard to understand.