In our local communities, there are scores of men and women who deserve our thanks and praise today—Veterans Day. This is the story of two, and their paths of service that converged and continued in Granville.
Born in Vermont, Trevor “Trig” Gamble moved to Binghamton, N.Y. at a young age. He joined the Navy in 1946 and was qualified as a Navy aviator serving on various aircraft carriers in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. During this time, he logged more than 3,100 flight hours to include 24 nighttime carrier landings. This complicated and dangerous operation is a source of pride. According to his children, Gamble often remarks in response to certain events, “Yes, that’s impressive, but have they ever made a night carrier landing?“ Gamble served during the Korean War but after nine years active duty and the prospect of another extended absence from his family, elected to transfer to the Reserves and complete his education.
Born in nearby Zanesville, Ohio, Ted Barclay’s family moved to Columbus during his childhood, and he graduated from Columbus North High School and Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves and went on full-time active duty after graduation. He was assigned to duty with Navy Aviation and to a flight unit in Japan whose primary mission was to conduct aerial anti-submarine operations during the Korean War. Continuing in the Reserves, he received his commission as a Navy officer in 1962.
Their paths first crossed in 1963 when both were fledging new professors at Denison. Gamble had recently left active duty as a Navy pilot and was starting his Denison career in the physics department. Barclay came to Denison in 1962 to start the swimming program, returning to civilian life to pursue a career in education and coaching.
While their civilian vocation was instructing at Denison, both men maintained their Reserve status. They were both assigned to a Navy Aviation unit outside of Detroit that specialized in anti-submarine missions. At that time, the Cold War was at its zenith and the threat of Soviet nuclear subs was very real. Both were recalled to active duty during the Berlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Although open hostilities did not break out, both men faced harrowing situations. Gamble recalls that his unit was scrambled at the height of the missile crisis and the threat of a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union seemed imminent. Leading his squadron south to Florida, he recalled the tensions of that time. “We were flying over New York City with heavy cloud cover, and I kept wondering if we would see a mushroom cloud arise from the city,” recalled Gamble. “I kept wondering if events were underway which would profoundly change the fate of my family and my nation.”
Barclay recalls being aboard the carrier USS Valley Forge when the ship struck a whale. Being trained and certified by the Navy Scuba School, the skipper summoned him and requested that he dive to ascertain damage to the propeller screws. Barclay pointed out that the large amount of blood and whale chum in the water would undoubtedly attract sharks rendering this a very dangerous mission. The skipper shrugged and young Lt. Barclay donned his gear and made his way underwater to the affected area. He remembers “hugging the hull” as much as he could to prevent detection by sharks and determining that one of the propeller shafts was indeed bent.
Both men continued to serve together in the same Navy Reserve units until Trig Gamble retired in 1982 with the rank of Captain. Ted Barclay continued until 2001, also retiring as a Captain. As a result of their demonstrated leadership skills, they were both specially selected by the Navy to interview and screen candidates from central Ohio for the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
The partnership and relationship forged from their military experience carried over in their roles at Denison. Gamble became chair of the physics department and also served as dean of students. Barclay became the athletic director and coached at various times the swimming, soccer, and golf teams. Many of these teams achieved national ranking and the solid foundations Barclay built helped make Denison one of the premier collegiate swimming programs. Both became much-loved figures on campus, guiding and developing a rapport with generations of students during their time at Denison.
Both men also became quiet but effective leaders within the local community. Gamble became a prominent lay leader with the Granville Presbyterian Church. Also active with the Boy Scouts, he served with the board of the local United Way for many years and as chairman of the board of the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra. Barclay has been involved with Granville Rotary for years, as well as active in projects sponsored by the Centenary Methodist Church. He was a founding member of the Granville Recreation Commission, and one of the driving forces behind starting youth soccer in Granville. One of his fondest memories was serving as the manager and swimming coach at the old Spring Valley Pool.
These long time brothers-in-arms and close friends are now neighbors at Kendal in Granville and remain active. Their spouses, Carolyn and Patricia, have likewise formed a close bond over the years with a similar record of not only being “military wives,” but through their service to the community and to the education of children.
On this Veterans Day, we celebrate those men and women such as Trig Gamble and Ted Barclay, whose sacrifice and service we remember with gratitude.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the Granville Sentinel.)