Charles Herbert Broshar by Cullen Kane
As soon as new students step on to Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, they are officially christened as Hoosiers. This name unites every single person who attends our diverse school under a common title, and with that title comes a network of past and present Hoosiers ready and willing to support each other. As Hoosiers, we have a duty to reflect on our university’s history and to remember the individuals who helped shape Indiana University into the institution it is today. The Covid-19 pandemic is shaping, and will continue to shape, our university, and during these unprecedented times, many Indiana University students contemplated taking a semester or year off, either for safety reasons or to delay schooling for a time in order to hopefully see the world return to some form of normalcy before going back to the college experience. Nearly eighty years ago, students also had the choice of returning to school or taking time off, but for those students, the choice was not a simple matter of finding a part-time job or some other way to pass the time. No, for them it was a matter of life and death, a matter of continuing their education at IU or risking their lives by enlisting to fight in the second World War.
One such student faced with this decision was Charles Herbert Broshar, a native Hoosier born and raised in Lebanon, Indiana. He started college at Indiana University and began working toward a business degree for a few years. However, seeing that the entrance of the United States into World War II was inevitable and fast approaching, Broshar, like many others, decided to enlist. On November 1, 1941, Broshar officially became a cadet in the United States Navy Reserve, serving as a storekeeper rank third-class. As storekeeper, his duties would have included purchasing and procuring the proper supplies for the ship and making orders for new shipments. Storekeeper duties also included the issuing of equipment, tools, and other consumable items to the men. On November 14th of that same year, Broshar was called to active duty as a crew member on the USS Griffin. The USS Griffin was a submarine tender, a type of ship that is tasked with keeping submarines stocked with food, torpedoes, fuel, and other supplies. Some submarine tenders, the USS Griffin among them, were also equipped with workshops to repair the submarines. After it was successfully converted into a submarine tender, the USS Griffin conducted a quick shakedown or test cruise off the East coast then headed to Newfoundland with a small sub squadron of submarines. While in Newfoundland, the ship was recalled to Newport, Rhode Island.
This Atlantic-based ship was ordered into new waters when, on December 7th, 1941, after Japan infamously attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, the USS Griffin was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. This attack officially brought the US out of isolationism and into the war, and Broshar’s assignment to the Pacific Fleet right after the Pearl Harbor tragedy must have made the war feel very real. The USS Griffin, with Broshar aboard, then departed for Brisbane, Australia on February 14, 1942 and arrived at her destination two months later on April 15, 1942. In Brisbane, the crew of the USS Griffin repaired and restocked submarines that were used to disrupt Japanese shipments. As the submarines were disrupting shipments from below the surface, the rest of the Pacific Fleet was busy preparing for the first Pacific offensives above the surface.
After approximately nine months of supplying, repairing, and escorting submarines around Oceania, the USS Griffin arrived back in the United States on January 20, 1943, and on February 4, 1943, Broshar finally made it back to Indiana after being away from home for two years. Broshar made the most of his brief eleven day leave by marrying his college sweetheart Marjorie Ann Bicknell on February 10, 1943 at First Christian Church in Sullivan, Indiana. He returned to San Francisco on February 14th to rejoin the crew of the USS Griffin, and Marjorie followed him out west several days later in order to spend a few precious weeks with her new husband before he headed out to sea again. After leaving San Francisco, Broshar and the USS Griffin headed back to Australia and rejoined their submarine squadron before sailing closer to Japanese shipping lanes at Mios Woendi, New Guinea where they repaired many different crafts. They stayed in New Guinea until February 1st, 1945, at which point they headed to Subic Bay, Leyte, Philippines, where they set up the first submarine repair facility in the Philippines. The submarines that Broshar and the USS Griffin supported basically destroyed the Japanese merchant ships and were instrumental in the success of the Pacific Offensive. After the official Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2nd, 1945, the USS Griffin departed the Pacific and started its return to San Francisco, where it arrived on September 20, 1945. Broshar eventually found his way back to Indiana University where he completed his school and earned a bachelor’s degree in business on February 2nd, 1946.
Charles Broshar made a choice to serve his country when it needed him most. This act of selflessness is an example to us and future generations of Hoosiers. I am proud to call Charles Herbert Broshar a fellow Hoosier, and it is people like him, people who are willing to risk life and limb for the good of others, who have brought glory to old IU.
Chen, C. Peter. “[Photo] Submarine Tender USS Griffin with Unidentified Submarines (Possibly USS Piranha, USS Lionfish, USS Moray, USS Devilfish, or USS Hacklebak), Midway Atoll, 26 Aug-1 Sep 1945.” WW2DB, ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=16856.
“Indiana University.” “Charles Herbert Broshar”, webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/archivesphotos/results/item.do?itemId=P0067284.
“NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive.” Submarine Tender Photo Index (AS), www.navsource.org/archives/09/36/3613.htm.