Gene Roaf of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a plane captain who maintained a single Corsair fighter aboard the carrier USS Bennington during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II. He served as a seaman 1st class and part of the Essex class carrier’s deck crew. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘U.S. Navy’ Category
Les Thompson says he’s no war hero. He was just a seaman 1st class who served aboard the USS Abner Read, a destroyer sunk by a Japanese kamikaze at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944 during the final months of World War II.
The 76-year-old Englewood, Fla. man joined the Navy at 17 in 1943. He enlisted in Pontiac, Mich. where he grew up. Read the rest of this entry »
Dale Davis of Punta Gorda, Fla. got into Naval aviation on June 8, 1945. It was two days after Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets dropped the first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan from a B-29, four-engine bomber named for his mother–Enola Gay–ending World War II. Read the rest of this entry »
Art Rimback, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., had a military and civilian career afterwards that was pretty much a closed book. He did a bunch of secret stuff he doesn’t talk about. Read the rest of this entry »
It was July 22, 1945 when Earl Thompson, a Navy fireman who now lives in Port Charlotte, Fla. sailed into Buckner Bay aboard a transport ship that dropped anchor off Okinawa. The 17-year-old swabbie was one of the thousands of servicemen aboard these ships. Read the rest of this entry »
Shortly after graduating from high school in 1943 at 17 in Philadelphia, Pa., Warren Hope of Gulf Cove, in Charlotte County, Fla. joined the Seabees. His parents had to sign him into the service because of his age. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Germans marched into Poland in 1939 starting World War II, Bill Donaldson and all the other young men in his senior class at Strong Vincent High School in Erie, Pa. went down to the local military recruitment center and signed up. Read the rest of this entry »
By the time World War II ended, Oscar Hettema of Port Charlotte, Fla. had seen a lot of this world as a chief warrant officer in the Navy Seabees. Read the rest of this entry »
They called it “Nimitz’s Secret.” All 10, 100-foot-long steel sections were towed by ship from San Francisco to Espiritus Santo, the main island in the New Hebrides chain. This floating steel dry dock for America’s Pacific Fleet during World War II was a military secret and a game changer. Read the rest of this entry »
Glen Berree spent the first two decades of his life as a Navy brat. His father was a fighter ace in World War II with nine kills to his credit. The next quarter century Berree carved out a career as a pilot, like his dad, almost became a SEAL and completed his Naval career as skipper of a guided missile destroyer following the Vietnam War. When he wasn’t at sea he was serving in positions at Annapolis and working in the Pentagon with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell. Read the rest of this entry »
Like millions of other young men before and after him, Howard Mack joined the Navy right out of high school. It was 1954, he was 18, and the Korean war had been over for a year. Read the rest of this entry »
Two friends who served in the submarine service before Jim Manning talked him into signing up for the Navy and going to sub school when the time came. He didn’t regret it. Read the rest of this entry »
Christ Nielsen of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a “Seadevil.” He was a member of U.S. Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven that rescued downed pilots and seamen in trouble off the coast of Vietnam during the war. Read the rest of this entry »
It was late in the war. Petty Officer 3rd Class Don Alger was on his first combat patrol aboard the USS Billfish (SS-286) sailing into Japanese waters. He was scared. Read the rest of this entry »
Before Brad Messick graduated from high school in 1966 at 19 he had already been notified by his draft board. He signed up with the Navy and was allowed to graduate before going to sea. Read the rest of this entry »
Jack Monahan served three tours in Vietnam during the war. He returned to Sarasota in ’69 and became a general contractor. He was doing well until the housing took a nosedive a few years back. He lost everything. At 70 he’s not in great health and he lives in an efficiency apartment in east Venice and subsists on a Wartime Veteran’s Pension of $1,054 per month. Life is tough. Read the rest of this entry »
“I knew things were getting serious when they issued us corpsmen morphine as we got off the C-130 transport at Guantanamo Bay,” Bob Pulver of Heritage Lake condominiums in Port Charlotte, a former Marine corpsman during the Cuban Missile Crisis said. Read the rest of this entry »
During his 30 year Naval career Mike Clarity of Punta Gorda, Fla. was the skipper of a guided missile destroyer and the Port Commander at Pearl Harbor by the time he retired from the service. Read the rest of this entry »
Jack Sanzalone of Port Charlotte, Fla. spent almost three decades under the sea in atomic attack submarines keeping an eye on America’s enemies as the boat combed the deep searching for adversaries. Read the rest of this entry »
When John Dickinson arrived at the airport in Saigon, Vietnam in 1969 aboard a commercial jet from the United States he was a recient graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who had just finished helicopter flight school in Pensacola. Read the rest of this entry »
Jay Stuart had two years behind him at North Carolina State in engineering in 1960 when he ran out of money for school. He decided to join the Navy and see the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Times were tough for Robert Smith’s family when he was inducted into the Navy.
“I sent 60 percent of my Navy pay home to my mother to help the family. My other three brothers did the same. I never played payday poker in the barracks,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey sailed into the sea of Japan, between the Japanese home islands and the Chinese mainland, with Task Group 38.3 consisting of five aircraft carriers, two battleships, four light cruisers and a group of destroyers. Read the rest of this entry »
Helen Salins of Polynesian Village in north Englewood, Fla. joined the WAVES during World War II. She was 25 and already a talented artist and a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in English. Read the rest of this entry »
Jerry Bauer of Village of Holiday Lakes mobile home park, near Port Charlotte, Fla., spent 22 years in the military, most of it in the “Silent Service” during the “Cold War.” Read the rest of this entry »
Joe Medina and a buddy were shooting pool in a Tampa, Fla. pool hall in 1946 when the two of them got the idea to join the Navy. Both were 18. Read the rest of this entry »
Dan Avenancio started as a seaman on Carrier Kennedy and retired a Lt. Cmdr. aboard Carrier RooseveltIn U.S. Navy on September 4, 2013 at 1:38 am
Dan Avenancio joined the Navy in 1976 as a teenage seaman, part of the flight deck crew, sweeping the decks on the carrier USS John F. Kennedy, sailing off the Virginia coast as a training ship. He ended his 24-year Naval career in 2000 as lieutenant commander in charge of maintenance aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Read the rest of this entry »
After graduating from high school in Michigan in 1960, two days before he turned 18, James Dundas, who lives in the Burnt Store area, south of Punta Gorda, joined the Navy and took a “Kiddie Cruise.” The deal he made allowed him to serve three years and be out of the service shortly before his 21st birthday. Read the rest of this entry »
Howard Dole served on minesweepers, provided French Foreign Legion phones and worked for the Shaw of IranIn U.S. Navy on August 16, 2013 at 1:38 am
Howard Dole served on minesweepers, provided French Foreign Legion phones and worked for the Shaw of Iran
Howard Dole joined the Navy in 1948 after graduating from high school in Philadelphia. He went aboard the minesweeper, USS Sprig, the first radarman assigned to a minesweeper in the Atlantic Fleet. She was based in Charleston, S.C. Read the rest of this entry »
He shook Hitler’s hand and fought the Japanese aboard Battleship Tennessee at Philippines, Iwo Jima and OkinawaIn U.S. Navy, World War II on July 31, 2013 at 1:38 am
Bruce Rohn served as fire control officer aboard the USS Tennessee after the World War I-era battleship, sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was raised from the bottom, repaired and sent to war. The 95-year-old Venice, Fla. resident and the Tennessee (BB-43) saw action at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and numerous other engagements before World War II was over. Read the rest of this entry »
Until he sailed for Vietnam in 1967 aboard the USS Mathews, AKA-96, Richard Hartley of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 21 year-old auto worker making Jeeps at Ford’s giant Rouge industrial complex in Dearborn, Mich. Read the rest of this entry »
John Schiro sailed into battle aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) shortly after she was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in August 1943 as a member of the engine room’s “Black Gang.” When he left the carrier at war’s end he was the chief machinist-mate in the forward engine-room. Read the rest of this entry »
Like his father and grandfather before him, Noel Hyde graduated from pharmacy school. But he did his elders one better, Noel joined the U.S. Navy’s Service Corps in the pharmacy department and served 25 years retiring as a Navy captain. Read the rest of this entry »
When Roy Johnson of Port Charlotte went aboard the destroyer USS Wiltsie (DD-716) in December 1952, just before a shakedown crew, he was an 18-year-old apprentice fireman. Since the ship ran on steam turbine power Johnson was made a messenger aboard the Wiltsie.
Bud Lounsbury of North Port, Fla. may have had the cushiest job in he Navy! He served as a seaman aboard the fleet admiral’s barge in the Mediterranean during the Korean War. Read the rest of this entry »
Philip Merrill almost missed World World II. Two weeks before graduating from high school at 17 he was sworn into the Navy on May 17, 1943. Read the rest of this entry »
Harold Tyson was a teenage quartermaster 2nd class at the helm of the USS Sheridan (APA-51), an attack transport, in seven major Pacific battles during World War II. He and his ship took part in the Invasion of Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Leyte, Philippines and Okinawa, the largest island engagement during the Second World War.
The hand-written note on the back of the framed 8 X 10-inch black and white photo on the wall of Earl Swillum’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home reads: “Iwo Jima, Day 3.” On the flip side it shows LST-121 on the beach with its bow in the island’s black volcanic sand two days before the Marines put an American flag atop Mount Suribachi. Read the rest of this entry »
It was pitch dark 64 years ago this past week, when Seaman 1st Class James Friel of south Punta Gorda, Fla. jumped from the fantail of the USS Walke (DD-416) into Iron Bottom Sound at Guadalcanal after his destroyer was hit by a Japanese torpedo. Read the rest of this entry »
Wilbur Kinney of Port Charlotte, Fla. was aboard the carrier USS Yorktown when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the decisive Battle of Midway that began June 4, 1942. Read the rest of this entry »
After bootcamp at Great Lakes in 1958 and a stint in Aviation Electronics School in Patuxent River, Md., Radioman 3rd/Class Jim Spence wound up as a radio operator aboard a U.S. Navy four-engine, Super Constellation patrol plane flying out of Argentia, Newfoundland in Airborne Early Warning Squadron 13.
The USS Cavalla (SS-244) was considered by some to be the luckiest ship in the submarine service.
She sank the Japanese carrier Shokaku that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack, made 570 dives and sank 34,180 tons of enemy shipping near the end of World War II without sustaining any serious injuries to the crew. Read the rest of this entry »
Glenn Jenkins is dead. In 1945 he was a 17-year-old sailor who grew up in Nokomis, Fla. and joined the Navy near the end of World War II. After graduation from boot camp in Bainbridge, Md. he volunteered for a secret Naval mustard gas experiment that made him the focal point of a headline-grabbing Congressional investigation in Washington on military’s misconduct more than half a century later. Read the rest of this entry »
Richard Cook looked the part with his short cropped hair, weathered face and ramrod-straight military gait. The old salt would fool no one.
The real giveaway was the navy blue shirt with five rows of campaign ribbons complete with six battle stars on his chest. Underneath, embroidered in gold, it read: U.S. NAVY. Down the left arm of his long-sleeve shirt were the names of seven Vietnam cities. Even more interesting, also embroidered in gold, were four more lines of words in gold that read: “CAN’T TELL YOU.” Read the rest of this entry »
Former Venice, Fla. coach served aboard USS Intrepid, during WW II – Dick Brown coached football, baseball and basketball at Venice HighIn U.S. Navy, World War II on January 28, 2013 at 4:38 am
Dick Brown thought he was going to be an 18-year-old naval aviator in 1944. He quickly found out the military had more young flyboys than it needed. Read the rest of this entry »
Punta Gorda, Fla. man knows all about tsunamis – Seaman George McNeill’s troop ship was hit by a tsunamiIn U.S. Navy, World War II on November 26, 2012 at 4:38 am
George McNeill knows all about tsunamis like the one which devastated large portions of the southeast Asian coast of the Indian Ocean in 2005. He and the sailors aboard the troop transport, SS Denali, were hit by one in November 1942 while sailing from Seattle, Wash., to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Read the rest of this entry »
Norm Meissner attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. in the 1960s.
The “Cuban Missile Crisis” was erupting about the time he left the academy. The U. S. was on the verge of going to war with Russia over missiles the Soviets snuck into the island nation that were aimed our way. Read the rest of this entry »