Margaret Whittington

Mama', I just met the man I will marry!


I Found My Love at Gitmo

By Margaret Whittington

Click any image for a larger view

Mama', I just met the man I will marry someday!
I had just returned from one of my first dances at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and couldn't wait to tell my mother. It was in 1941 right after Pearl Harbor when most young men were far from home because they had to enlist or be drafted. Santiago de Cuba soon became a popular place for American Navy men to visit and meet Cuban girls. Well

Margaret Elmslie Whittington, 1942


At a Dance at Guantanamo, Cuba in 1943. That is Charles Harrington (far left) and George Cox holding my hand.

My Grandfather Walfrido Portuando, 1896

chaperoned dances were held at the naval base and many girls from Santiago attended.. I was popular because I spoke English and loved to dance. I was born in Santiago, Cuba, of an American father and a Cuban mother. My father, an engineer for Bethlehem Steel, was sent

to Santiago to build a bridge dock to load manganese. The year was 1920. My father, a widower, won my mother's hand in marriage even though he spoke little Spanish when he arrived and my mother
Arturo and Margaret, 1943

knew no English. My grandfather also worked for Bethlehem Steel as a superintendent. When I was one year old, my parents took me to a small mining town, Barracksville, West Virginia, where I spent my childhood years. My mother and father separated so my mother, my sister and I returned to Santiago. There was a violent earthquake of 1932 so my father immediately sent for us to return to West Virginia. My father and mother later divorced and both remarried. I bounced back and forth between Santiago, where my mother lived with her English husband, and Fairmont where my father lived with his new American wife.

My sister Helen

YMS-431 Tacoma,WA
November 12. 1944*

In 1943 I joined my sister Helen in Miami. As part of the war effort, we both worked as "Government Censors." It was interesting work

The young officer I fell in love with in Santiago was assigned to submarine chaser school in Miami. We had three glorious months. He was then assigned to a mine sweeper (YMS-431) first in California and later Tacoma, Washington.


Lt. Whittington aboard YMS 431

He left me standing on the dock tearfully in Tacoma where
I had gone to see him off. It was so painful! We were so in love but, like so many boys then, he refused to risk leaving a widow behind. .He was gone a year to Okinawa and Japan sweeping for mines. It was a very lonely trying time for us both. True to my love at first sight, the handsome young American officer, Arthur Whittington and I married as soon as the war was over - in the spring of 1946. We

Margaret and Arthur Whittington

had 50 blissful years together, had six children: one daughter and five sons.

Arthur Whittington and
Japanese aboard YMS 431
shortly after their surrender.

Lt. Whittington aboard YMS 431

Arthur Whittington in a relaxed moment aboard YMS-431



Send Corrections, additions, and input to:



Click the star for Site Map WWII Kilroy Was Here World War 2 gremlins Foo fighters Select Star Bearcat..

Search this site or the web powered by FreeFind
b search