Ted Sivyer of Country Club Estates in Venice manned a 20 mm antiaircraft gun on two destroyers, one during the Invasion of Sicily and North Africa and the other at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II.
He joined the Navy at 17. By the time he went to sea the Second World War was just getting started.
“I was in the amphibious forces at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in 1941 when the USS Butler, DD-636, came into port. My buddy was aboard the Butler and he hated sea duty. We got to swap jobs,” the 88-year-old former sailor said.
“After loading up with supplies the Butler sailed for North Africa and Sicily and I was aboard. My battle station was a 20 mm antiaircraft gun on the starboard side of the ship,” he said. “Mostly we provided shore bombardment during the Sicily Invasion.
“We shot down a lot of German planes. We even picked up one German pilot who parachuted from his fighter plane,” Sivyer said. “We brought him aboard the Butler and he was a happy guy.
“Shortly after we got involved in the Invasion of North Africa the Italians surrendered. The Americans ended up with an Italian battleship and cruiser they gave to us. Our destroyer accompanied the two former Italian ships back to the States.
“Before we reached port, somewhere off Cuba, we went through a hurricane. It was a real experience,” Sivyer said. “Everybody aboard ship got seasick during the storm except me.”
After reaching the States with their two war prizes, he was transferred to the USS Paul Hamilton, DD-590. Again he served as a seaman and his battle station was a 20 mm antiaircraft gun aboard ship.
“We went through the Panama Canal and headed for Pearl Harbor. When we reached Pearl there were still a number of damaged American battle ships leaking oil sitting on the bottom,” he said. “While at Pearl Harbor I also went to the the big military cemetery were all the dead from the Jap attack were buried.
“We sailed with Halsey’s fleet further into the Pacific. Our destroyer was providing cover for one of the admiral’s carriers, I can’t recall which one any more,” Sivyer said.
“We headed for the Philippines. I saw (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur go ashore in the Philippines. We heard his ‘I Have Returned’ speech over the ship’s intercalm he made to the people of the Philippines when he stepped ashore.
“I also remember listening to Tokyo Rose. She played the best music. All the jazz and the hit records of the day,” he recalled. “We liked her stuff.
“While accompanying the carriers sometimes a few of our planes would return so badly damaged they couldn’t land on the deck, they’d ditch in the sea as close to the carrier as possible. We’d send a lifeboat to pick ‘em up,” Sivyer said.
He made both the Iwo Jima invasion aboard the Hamilton that began Feb. 19, 1945 and the Invasion of Okinawa that started on Eastern Sunday morning, April 1, 1945.
“I saw the flag raised on Iwo Jima” he said.” We fired our big 5-inch guns so much during that invasion that you could see the red in the barrels from all the firing,” he recalled. “The battleships out beyond us would fire their huge shells and they would whistle and go on as they flew over us on their way to the beach.
“At Okinawa we tied up to an ammunition ship to begin with. Then later we were sent out on picket duty off the island,” Sivyer said. “Kamikazes would attack us early int the morning flying out of the sun just above the ocean. One of the kamikazes just missed our ship and hit the destroyer right behind us causing a lot of damage.
“While at Okinawa I saw my first ship, the USS Butler. Her whole bow was blown off by a Kamikaze,” he said. “She sailed back to the States and her bow was rebuilt at the shipyard in San Diego.
“We left the Pacific and sailed back to San Diego for repairs, too. While there they dropped The Bomb on Hiroshima. We never returned, the war was over.”
Sivyer went to work for Florida Power & Light Co. immediately after the Second World War. He had a job as a lineman for 42 years until he retired from the power company on the last day of 1987.
He transferred from the Miami area to Englewood in 1973. He and his second wife, Virginia, have been married since June 21, 2011.
Name: Arthur T. Sivyer
D.O.B: 5 Aug. 1923
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Currently: Venice, Fla.
Entered Service: 22 July 1941
Discharged: 1 Nov. 1945
Rank: Seaman 1st Class
Unit: USS Butler, DD 590 Paul Hamilton
Commendations: Honorable Service Lapel Button, Discharge Button, Discharge Emblem
Battles/Campaigns: Invasion of North Africa and Sicily, Iwo Jima, Okinawa
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Monday, July 23, 2012 and is republished with permission.
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