After graduating from Charlotte High School, Florida, in 1981, Walter Whisenant went into the Marine Corps. He took basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He transferred to Twenty-nine Palms, California, for communications school. After that he was sent to Camp Jejune, North Carolina. Finally he deployed to Beirut, Lebanon.
Lt. Susan Petersen of Grand Palm subdivision in Venice was Army nurse in Vietnam
Susan Petersen of Grand Palm subdivision in Venice graduated from St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio in 1967 with an RN degree. The Vietnam war was heating up.
1st. Lt Roger Petersen received 2 Purple Hearts and 2 Silver Stars fighting in Jungles of Vietnam in ’68
Roger Petersen who lives in Grand Palm subdivision in Venice, Fla. received two Silver Stars for service within 24 hours of each other while fighting in the jungle of Vietnam along the Cambodian border.
Ken Leff of Rotunda West served 24 years in Navy aboard everything from frigate to battleship
During his 24 years of service in the U.S. Navy Ken Leff of Rotunda West began his service in 1969 in little ships and ended it in battleships and aircraft carriers in the ’90s. He spent almost 2½ decades sailing the world and protecting the peace for all of us.
Jim Hunter of Englewood was scout dog handler with 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam
Within months after losing his college draft deferment in 1968 Jim Hunter, who lives in Sandpiper Key Condominiums on the way to Englewood Beach, Fla., found himself working his German Shepherd scout dog though the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam as a member of the 44th Scout Dog Platoon attached to the 25th Infantry Division.
1st Lt. Howard Catley of Venice spent two years in Vietnam with 101st Airborne Division
Shortly after graduating from the University of Rhode Island in ’69 with an education degree in hand and 2nd lieutenant bars on his shoulders. Howard Catley of Venice was sent to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, the fabled ’Screaming Eagles.’
Lance Cpl. Lou Piazza of Venice got Navy Commendation Medal for saving Marine’s life in Vietnam
Lance Corporal Lou Piazza of Venice served with Delta Company, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in Vietnam in1968. He signed up right out of high school and was sent to Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego, Calif.
Harry Ewald of Venice served in Vietnam in ’67-’68 with 19th Engineer Battalion
Harry Ewald of Venice, Fla. was a 12-Bravo in Vietnam, a grunt with a shovel, a member of the 19th Combat Engineer Battalion. He got there in November 1967.
Marine Cpl. Ray Kelley led his machine-gun team through hell in Vietnam
Ray Kelley of Port Charlotte was the leader of a four-man machine-gun squad in Vietnam. During his tour in 1966 and ’67 he was involved in 24 operations including one firefight where he received the “Silver Star” and “Purple Heart.”
1st Lt. Bob Akers of Burnt Store nearly shot down in F-86 fighter over Grand Canyon in ’56
Bob Akers of Burnt Store Marine was learning to be a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in 1956, between the Korean and the Vietnam War, when two airliners collided in midair over the Grand Canyon on June 30, 1956. All 128 passenger aboard both planes perished.
Venice man transported UN troops during Korean War
James “Murph” Murphy spent most of the Korean War transporting troops to and from Korea aboard the USS Montrose, an attack transport ship. He started as a deckhand and by war’s end was a quartermaster petty officer.
Venice man feared for his life only one day in Vietnam
Tom Upright, who lives with his wife Sue, in Grand Palm, Venice, FL, is a U.S. Marine—first, last, and always.
Roy Ault listened to his grandfather’s Spanish-American war stories
When Roy Ault of Englewood was just 14-years-old in 1949, he hitch-hiked from Columbus, Ohio to Santa Rosa, Calf. with only $35 in his pocket. He made the trek to meet his maternal grandfather, Chandler P. Goodrich who fought in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
“Rocky’ Burns of North Port was an emergency room medic in Vietnam in 1969
Bradley “Rocky” Burns of North Port, Fla. was sent to Vietnam in 1969 as a 20-year-old poorly-trained medic who hated the war with a passion.
Paul Winemiller served on Korean War armistice commission
Paul Winemiller, who lives in Village on the Isle in Venice, Florida joined the Army and was shipped to Korea in 1954. After graduating from college at Ohio University he went on active duty for two years with the Panmunjom Armistice Commission.
Luck played big part in Bill Ring’s two-year Army career in the early 1950s
If Bill Ring’s two years in the Army could be summed up in one word that word would be LUCK. From the time he went in the service in 1949 until he got out in ’52 luck played a big part in his service career.
John Busse of Venice at 101 still recalls his service in 16th Armored Division in WW II
John Busse of Venice, Fla. celebrated his 101st birthday at Venice Post 8118 VFW a couple of days ago. He served with Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II. John was a member of the 16th Armored Division that began its march across the continent in France, went on through Belgium, Germany, Poland, and…
Dr. Suzanna Vass flew during Desert Storm
Suzanna Vass served four years active duty in the Air Force, first as a medic and then 22 years as an Air National Guard with the 171st Air Refueling Wing. Now a Venice resident, she works on the emergency room staff at Venice Hospital and on the side she has a side business called “ER-2-YOU.”
William Moultrie of Englewood served aboard the USS Inchon during Vietnam War
William Moultrie of Overbrook Gardens subdivision in Englewood, Fla. enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 18 when he was attending community college in Northern Virginia in 1965.
‘Rap’ Peavy of Venice Acres spent nearly 19-months in Vietnam War running a radio station in Laos
In 1967 “Rap” Peavy of Venice Acres was attending the University of South Florida in Tampa when he had to drop out of school because his stepfather suffered a heart attack and he had to get a job to help his family out financially. He lost his draft deferment and became 1-A for the draft. So he decided…
Veteran served in Iraq, Afghanistan
Tyler Crane of Port Charlotte spent nine years in the Army. Some of his service was in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was there until injured by a suicide bomber who drove a truck into their firebase in the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan and blew himself up.
Former Sgt. Richard Uhlich ran APC in Vietnam with 9th Infantry division
A few weeks after graduating from the Manhattan School of Visual Arts in ’67 Richard Uhlich of Englewood Isles got his draft notice. He was headed for Vietnam.
Col. Victor Simpson flew last bombing missions during Vietnam War in Cambodia
After graduating from the University of New Mexico retired Col. Victor Simpson, who now lives in Punta Gorda Isles subdivision, went into the Marine Corps in 1969. He followed in the footsteps of his father who served in the Corps during World War II and the Korean War that followed. He got in just in…
Sgt. Doug Nichols of Englewood spent only 4 months in Vietnam because his mother was dying
Because his mother was dying of cancer back home, Sgt. Doug Nichols of Englewood, Fla. spent four months in Vietnam during the war. He was assigned to the Americal Division: Company A, 4th Battalion, 54 Infantry Regiment. His unit was stationed at I-Corps near the DMZ in the highlands. Their home base was Chu Lai when…
Scott Lawson was disc jockey aboard helicopter carrier USS New Orleans
Scott Lawson was a disc jockey in the U.S. Navy. From ’91 to ’95 he was the voice of the USS New Orleans, a helicopter carrier, based in San Diego used by the Marines.
WO-2 Robert Rodenhouse flew with the ‘Cat Killers’ in Vietnam in ’71-72
With a low draft number of 43, Robert Rodenhouse of Venice, Fla. knew he was about to be drafted in 1970 during the middle of the Vietnam War. So he volunteered for the Army. After basic at For Knox, Ky. he decided there must be a better job in the Army than gun toter in…
Remote island became ‘vacation’ for sailor
Emil Partak of Venice, Fla. went to Kwajalein Atoll during his early years in the Navy. He signed up in 1956, immediately after graduating from dental college at Loyola University in Chicago.
Cpl. Robert Jones fought on Okinawa with the 1st Marine Division
Robert Jones of Florida Pines Mobile Home Court in Venice recalls the war years like they were yesterday. He saw action in the Pacific during World War II in New Guinea, Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Peleliu Island, Okinawa, and the Ryukyu Islands.
Warren Tuggle of Punta Gorda and family run out of Miss. by KKK in ’47
Warren Tuggle of Punta and his family were run out of Biloxi, Miss. 65 years ago by the Ku Klux Klan. The Tuggle family was black and Warren was a 17-year-old high school graduate in 1947 when they left town.
Former Petty Officer Ray Gomes aboard carrier USS Enterprise when it blew up off coast of Hawaii in ’69
Ray Gomes of Gulf Cove subdivision, Port Charlotte was a nuclear reactor operator aboard the USS Enterprise, America’s fist atomic aircraft carrier. He was aboard when tragedy struck the Navy’s largest ship. An on-deck explosion the morning of Jan. 14, 1969 caused a chain reaction and fire among the carrier’s aircraft that were ready to…
101st Airborne trooper returns to Vietnam after 50 years
Returning to Vietnam was no sentimental journey for Bob Ruybal after 50 years.
Maj. Jerry Allen joined Strategic Air Command in time for ’62 ’Cuban Missile Crisis’
When 2nd. Lt. Jerry Allen of Punta Gorda graduated from aviation cadet training in the Air Force in the early ‘60s his timing was perfect. The “Cuban Missile Crisis” erupted and he became a navigator aboard a KC-135 transport supplying fuel to the Strategic Air Command’s B-52 bombers poised to bomb Cuba.
Former Marine Maj. David Good flew UH-34 ‘copter in Vietnam, A4- ‘Sky Hawk’ fighters in States and airlines later
David Good of Port Charlotte joined the Marine Aviation Cadet Program a year out of high school in 1961. He went to basic training at the San Diego Recruit Depot and took advanced infantry training at Camp Pendleton, S.C.
Master Chief Arthur Ortner saw world as Navy Seabee in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam
On Aug. 19, 1966 Master Chief Arthur Ortner retired from the Seabees. By then he had constructed buildings of all shapes and sizes all over the world for the Navy during his 20 years of service.
Airman Francis Williams trained to fix F-100 Jet Fighters’ RADAR, but put ‘A-Bombs’ in B-57 Bombers
Francis Williams of Port Charlotte graduated from high school in 1954 in St. Clair, Mich. The following year he joined the Air Force and trained as a RADAR technician. He thought he would be repairing the RADAR units in F-100 “Super Sabre” jet fighters. Instead he and a small crew of workmen ended up loading…
Lt. Col. Gary Butson joined Air Force to fight ‘The Evil Empire’
In the 1980s Lt. Col. Gary Butson (Ret.) of North Port helped President Ronald Reagan develop “Star Wars.” This was this program that caused the Soviet Union to go broke trying to compete with the U.S. military might.
Gurio Vincenti of Punta Gorda was first a Navy steward then a Navy ’SEAL’
Gurio Vincenti of Punta Gorda came to the U.S. with his family from Italy in 1966, he was 18 at the time. After high school and a couple of years at a junior college he enlisted in the Navy.
Charles Hall of Sarasota flew ‘Sea Horse’ helicopters for Marines in Vietnam in ’67
Charles Hall of Sarasota was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in 1967 during the war in Vietnam. He flew for Marine Helicopter Squadron 163 out of Phu Bai.
Bob Ruybal of North Port went to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division in ’68
Robert Ruybal of North Port was finishing up his senior year at the University of Colorado in 1968 when he bombed the last semester.
Earl LeBon, Riverside Oaks Mobile Home Park Punta Gorda forged mom’s name and joined Navy
At 17 Earl LeBon of Riverside Oaks Mobile Home Park in Punta Gorda forged his mother’s name on his induction papers and joined the Navy at 17 in 1961.
The G.I. Bill made all the difference in Ralph Fitzner’s life after 4 years in the Air Force
Like tens-of-thousands of airmen before him and thousand more who served after him, it wasn’t the time Ralph Fitzner of Alameda Isles Mobile Home Park in Englewood served in the Air Force that made a big difference in his life. It was the G.I. Bill he signed up for when he got out of the…
Ed Garrick of Port Charlotte one of 5 survivors of ‘Battle of Pork Chop Hill’ in Korea
Ed Garrick of Port Charlotte graduated from high school in time to got into the last few months of the Korean War. After boot camp he arrived off the coast of Inchon, North Korea and was taken ashore in landing craft in the middle of a snow storm.
It wasn’t WW II, but the G.I. Bill that made the difference in Bob Schrock’s life
Bob Schrock missed the war in Europe and when he ended up in the Philippines the war in the Pacific Theatre of Operations was over too.
Byron Hill learned he was headed for the Vietnam War so he joined the Marines
After graduating from Southern Illinois University in 1964 Byron Hill of Island Walk Subdivision, Venice, found his name at the top of the list to be drafted and sent to fight the war in Vietnam.
Sgt. Bob Hayes received 2 Purple Hearts while fighting with the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam
Bob Hayes of Port Charlotte was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division when he got to Vietnam in 1966. As an 18-year-old gun-toter it didn’t take long for him to receive his first Purple Heart for combat wounds.
At 18 Eugene Maulding of Englewood was youngest sergeant in 2nd Marine Division
In 1956 Eugene Maulding was the youngest sergeant in Company-B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He was 18 at the time.
W-4 Randy Laney of Englewood flew 9,000 hours in many Vietnam-era ‘choppers
Randy Laney of Englewood flew helicopters for 45 years both in the Army and as a commercial chopper pilot after he was discharged.
Sgt. Larry Silver was tank commander with 1st Marine Division in Korean War
For former Marine Cops T-Sgt. Larry Silver of Venice, sailed into Inchon, North Korea with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and attacked the enemy. It may have been the most difficult amphibious landing in history because the the city had tides that rose and fell 36-feet each day making it very hard to land an attacking force.…
Hank Pruitt joined Seabees during WW II because of an old girlfriend
Hank Pruitt of Port Charlotte joined the Seabees during the closing days of World War II because of an old flame.
Pfc. Marc Folden joined 1st Cavalry Division in A Shau Valley, Vietnam in ’68
With 10 weeks of Combat Medic Training under his belt 19-year-old Marc Folden of Venice flew into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam aboard a commercial jet in April 1968 and joined the 1st Cavalry Division, the largest Army unit in the field, in the A Shau Valley as a combat medic with Aco-Company, 5th Battalion, 7th…
Joel Healy of Manasota Key served in 1st Marine Division and fought in Korean War
Joel Healy of Manasota Key was a member of Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division when he was shipped to the front lines in Korea in 1951. He was an ammo carrier for a 60 mm. mortar squad.
Cpl. Keith Connors wanted Vietnam but ended up in Puerto Rico during hitch in Marines in ’69
Keith Connors of Alameda Isles Mobile Home Park, Englewood was still in high school when he quit and joined the Marine Corps. He wanted to fight in Vietnam.
SP-3 Marvin Kelly of North Port fired Atomic Cannon in Europe during 1950s
Specialist-3rd Class Marvin Kelly of North Port was listed as assistant gunner on a 280 millimeter atomic cannon. It was the biggest and baddest artillery piece the U.S. Army every produced during the “Cold War” of the 1950s.
Bill Hartstein of Alameda Isles made electronics his life’s work thanks to Army
Just by chance Bill Hartstein of Alameda Isles mobile home park in Englewood joined the U.S. Army’s Security Service at the close of the Korean War In the 1953 and nailed down a career in electronics for life.
Sp.-4 Carl Fisher spent 13 months in Vietnam in 68-69 with 577 Combat Engineers
The year after Carl Fisher of Fantasy Island Condominiums on Manasota Key graduated from high school in 1966 he was drafted and sent to Vietnam as a private and a member of the 577th Combat Engineers.
Ensign John Beyernheimer’s destroyer almost hit an aircraft carrier during night maneuvers
John Beyernheimer went aboard the destroyer James C. Owens in Norfolk, Va. in 1951 shortly after obtaining a degree in physical education.
Lt. Col. Merritt Dayton was Army chaplain who survived Leopoldville sinking
Pfc. Merritt Dayton of Venice was one of the lucky ones who escaped the SS Leopoldville disaster off the coast of France on Christmas Eve 1944. The Leopoldville was a Belgium troop transport crammed full of 2,223 soldiers from the U.S. 66th Infantry Division sailing from England to France to take part in the “Battle…
CW-2 Mike Ware of Venice flew Hueys in Vietnam for 101st Airborne in ’68
Chief Warrant Officer-2 Mike Ware of Venice was a “Kingsmen” in Vietnam. He was a Huey helicopter pilot in ’68 who flew 101st Airborne Division assault troops into battle throughout that war-torn country. The “Kingsmen” is what they called themselves.
Hugo Riva of Mary Lou Mobile Home Park flew last 10 combat missions of WW II in B-17 bomber
Hugo Riva of Mary Lou Mobile Home Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. flew out of England as top turret gunner and engineer aboard a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber dubbed “Combined Operation” during the Second World War.
Staff Sgt. Robert Wollitz flew 73 combat missions as gunner aboard B-29 bomber in Korea
Jane Russell was painted on the nose of a B-29, four-engine bomber flying out of Kadina Air Force Base on Okinawa in the Pacific during the Korean War. Emblazoned below her shapely form was “The Outlaw,” the name of her latest movie.
Sgt. Barbara Vaughn of Venice spent years in Middle East as Air Force and civilian aide
Barbara Vaughn of Venice served 28 years as a member of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty U.S. Air Force. She retired from the service in 2003 as an Air Force master-sergeant after years of service in the Middle East during the First Gulf War in 1991 and later.
Basic training injury keep former Lt. Jim Brand out of ‘D-Day Invasion’
Jim Brand of Ventura Lakes mobile home park south of Punta Gorda, developed a hernia in basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. during World War II and missed the “D-Day Invasion.”
John Fanning of Warm Mineral Springs served 4 years in ’Nam with Special Forces
In May 1950 John Fanning of Warm Mineral Springs joined the Connecticut National Guard because it was where the socially-connected met to party. A month later, in June, the 21-year-old Army recruit learned his Guard unit provided more than good times. He marched off to war in Southeast Asia when his outfit was federalized shortly…
Lowell Garrett at ground zero in ’53 for test of ‘Dooms Day on Wheels,’ atomic cannon
Lowell Garrett of El Jobean, Fla. had a front row seat for the final blast of “Dooms Day on Wheels”, the 280 millimeter atomic cannon fired at the government’s Nevada test site during the Korean War in 1953. He and the other 200 members of his 59th Field Artillery Battalion that operated the gun were…
Alf Weidner made 3 Pacific combat cruises aboard sub USS Bowfin during end of WWII
Motor Machinist Mate Alf Weidner of Venice, Fla. joined the crew of the submarine USS Bowfin (SS-287) in 1944. He was 18-years-old when he first went aboard. The Bowfin was a sub with a fighting reputation. She made nine combat cruises into Japanese held territory and sank 44 enemy ships. Weiner served aboard the boat…
Pfc. Ed Carr of Venice fought his way through Europe with Gen. Patton during WW II
Ed Carr was an 18-year-old rifle toter in L-Company, 303rd Infantry Regiment, 97th Division of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II. He now lives in ‘Village on the Isle’ condominiums in Venice.
Sp.-3 Jim Miele was demolition expert, ’tunnel rat’ & served with Rangers in Vietnam
When he flew into Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon, South Vietnam in 1968 Sp.-3 Jim Miele was 19 and thought he was invincible. He began his 14 months in country as a demolition expert, then volunteered to be a “tunnel rat,” and finally parachuted out of airplanes with Army Rangers on special operation missions.
Pfc. Joe Battaglia Army communication specialist saw action along 38th Parallel in Korea
Shortly after Joe Battaglia was drafted into the Army in November 1951, he found himself in a bunker a few hundred feet behind the “Main Line of Resistance,” the front line, along the 38th Parallel separating North and South where the fighting was taking place during the Korean War.
Pfc. John Coine was a rifleman with the 78th Infantry Division that fought across Europe during World War II
John Coine of Burnt Store Isles was a former private first class and a rifleman in the 78th Infantry Division that arrived in Europe just in time for the “Battle of the Bulge” in December 1944. It was the biggest battle on the Western Front that Americans took part in.
Air Corps sergeant Dick Ruppert kept U.S. bombers and fighters on target during war in the Pacific
Dick Ruppert of Venice, Fla. was a member of the 145th Army Airways Communication Squadron. His unit provided technical ground support for a directional flight system used by the Army Air Corp to vector bombers and fighters to Japanese targets in the Pacific in World War II.
Former Staff Sgt. Jim Hicks was tail-gunner on B-25 attack bomber in CBI during WW II
Former Staff Sgt. Jim Hicks of Emerald Lake Mobile Home Park in Punta Gorda, Fla. was the tail-gunner on a B-25, twin-engine attack bomber, part of 81st Squadron, 12th Bombardment Group, 10th Air Force in the China Burma and India Theatre (CBI) during World War II.
103-year-old Air Force nurse, Grace Chicken, served in WW II, Korea and “Cold War”
One-hundred-three-year-old retired Air Force Lt. Col. Grace Chicken, who lives at South Port Square in Port Charlotte, Fla., was already a registered nurse when she signed up for the Army Air Corps during the early part of World War II.
Lt. Ken Donihue in 101st Airborne fought NVA & A-shau Valley of Vietnam
Former 1st Lt. Ken Donihue of Hampshire House apartments in Port Charlotte arrived in Vietnam a few weeks after the “Tet Offensive.” He flew into the country in March of 1968, as a member of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division—”The Screaming Eagles.”
Sgt. John Robson escaped ‘Tet Offensive,’ serves 20 years in U.S. Air Force all around world
John Robson of Englewood, Fla. joined the Air Force at 18, in 1966. After basic he was trained to be a jet engine mechanic and was sent to an air force base in Tuy Hoa, South Vietnam in 1967. He worked on the engine of a squadron of F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers over there.
Charles Carter of Englewood served with the 69th Infantry Division in Europe during WW II
At 91 Charles Carter of Englewood, Fla. was old enough to enlist in the Army and serve with the 69th Infantry Division that fought its way across Europe during the closing months of World War II.
Bill O’Brien of North Port, Fla. became a Navy computer expert fixing secret computers at sea
Bill O’Brien of North Port, Fla. served aboard the destroyer USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858) from 1961 to ’63 as part of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal’s battle group much of the time. He and his ship made a couple of cruises to the Mediterranean, another to Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and the Red Sea.
Airman John Langley of Venice, Fla. and his guard-dog ‘Vogie’ took on NVA & VC during Vietnam War
Airman 2nd Class John Langley of Venice was a member of the 377th Security Police (K-9) when he arrived at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base outside Saigon South Vietnam in 1967. It was the 19-year-old airman and his guard-dog “Vogie” against the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong guerrillas.
Angelo Yerace was motor machinist aboard Landing Craft Tank at Normandy Invasion in WW II
Former Motor Machinist 2nd Class Angelo Yerace’s first taste of war came when he and the other 11 members of the crew of the LCT, Landing Craft Tank, he served on reached the beach at Normandy, France on Day 1 the historic invasion of Europe by Allied forces on June 6, 1944.
Lt. Col. Warren Sharp of Venice learned there was much more to Vietnam than the war
When Warren Sharp went to Vietnam in 1965 the first time as a young captain serving as an advisor to a South Vietnam combat engineering battalion he quickly learned there was more to war than killing the enemy. There were in-country civilians who needed his help just as urgently.
Hans Wex served more than 21 years in the U.S. Army during WW II and afterwards
Born in Germany on Feb 5, 1921, Hans Wex of Port Charlotte, Fla. spent the early part of his life living in Europe then he moved to Hollywood, Calif. before ending up back in Germany in 1934, the year Adolph Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany.
Joe Dinish served as combat medic in Army during Korean War
In 1948 President Harry Truman passed a law integrating the U.S. military. Three years later Joe Dinish in Kings’ Gate Subdivision, Port Charlotte, Fla. was drafted into the Army out of high school and was eventually sent to Korea. He served 13 months in the war zone as a combat medic in 1952 and ’53…
Stuart Wagner of Port Charlotte became radio operator in Merchant Marines in 1944 and saw the world
When Stuart Wagner of Port Charlotte sailed out of New York Harbor in a convoy headed for parts unknown during World War II all he knew was he was a member of the Merchant Marine serving as one of three radio operators aboard the tanker “Esso Charleston” taking 10,000 tons of bunker-C oil to the…
Pfc. Dave Rydberg served at Guantanamo Cuba during the revolution in ’58
Former Pfc. Dave Rydberg of Venice was a 19-year-old Marine recruit who wound up at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba in 1958 during the Cuban Revolution.
Petty Officer John Denike of Venice helped keep Navy flying during WW II
Because John Denike worked as an aviation repair sheet metal worker for Schweitzer Aviation in the Elmira, Ny. area building glider planes before World II, he joined the Navy in 1941 and was immediately commissioned a 3rd class petty officer without attending boot camp.
Bill Akins was a forward artillery observer with 1st Cavalry in Vietnam
Bill Akins of Port Charlotte quit high school at 17 in 1966 and joined the Army with his father’s permission. After basic at Fort Bliss, Texas. he was sent to Germany with a self-propelled unit of 175 millimeter artillery gun battery attached to the 7th Army.
Seaman Charles Dietterich served aboard the cruiser St. Paul in the South Pacific at end of WW II
Charles Dietterich of Deep Creek sailed out of San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate aboard the heavy cruiser USS St. Paul (CA-73) in June 1945 and headed for the war in the South Pacific. He arrived just in time to take part in the attack on the Japanese main islands. The 18-year-old seaman, from…
Duane Holmbeck was barber aboard anti-sub destroyer USS Perry shortly before ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of ’62
Duane Holmbeck of Englewood served aboard the USS Perry (DD-844), a Gearing class destroyer, shortly before the “Cuban Missile Crisis” of 1962. He was the ship’s barber.
Pfc. Joe Steimel of Holiday Park North Port received 2 Purple Hearts fighting Germans in WW II
Pfc. Joe Steimel of Holiday Park in North Port was a twice-wounded mortar-man who served in the 29th Infantry Division that fought its way through France and Germany during the last year of the war in Europe in World War II.
George Bagley served 22 years in Army during WW II, Korean War and start of Vietnam War
George Bagley of Rotunda was in the U.S. Army for 22 years— from 1942, during the middle of World War II, through the Korean War and on until 1964 near the beginning of the Vietnam War.
Seaman 1st/C Sylvia Scaruffi typed her way through Korean War on IBM Punchcard Machines
Sylvia Scaruffi of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy shortly before her 21st birthday near the start of the Korean War in 1951. She was following in the footsteps of her older brothers shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the U.S. into World War II.
Former Cpl. Leo Scaruffi was member of U. S. Constabulary Force in Germany at end of WW II
Leo Scaruffi, who lives in South Port Square Senior Living in Port Charlotte, Fla., was a member of the U.S. Constabulary forces in Bavaria after World War II ended. Their job was to help the German civilians take their country back from Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
Michael Kelley served as baker aboard USS Nueces in Vietnam in 1968
Michael Kelley sailed for South Vietnam aboard the self-propelled barracks ship USS Nueces (APB-40) in 1968. He was the night baker aboard the strange craft that anchored at Vung Tau, near the Mekong River approach to Saigon from the south.
Sgt. Bernie Shenal of Port Charlotte soldiered with Elvis Presley at Fort Hood, Texas in ’58
Former Sgt. Bernie Shenal of Port Charlotte, Fla. spent the last month of his three-year tour in the U.S. Army soldiering with Elvis Presley at Fort Hood, Texas in 1958. Shenal was in the 2nd Armored Division and Presley was in the 3rd. Their barracks were side-by-side on the army post.
Wayne King’s Marine Corps company was surrounded by enemy troops and about to be wiped out
Marine Corps Pfc. Wayne King of Rotunda West was a “short-timer” in 1968 when he survived the worst of his nine-months tour during the Vietnam War. His company was sent into the jungle to protect an artillery unit at Fire Base Maxwell 80 miles south of An Hoa. They were surrounded by a North Vietnamese…
Pfc. Tom Moore of Port Charlotte, Fla. took part in Battle of Metz, France during World War II
The 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, the outfit Pfc. Tom Moore of Port Charlotte, Fla. served with during World War II, was called “Patton’s Ghost Troops.” They were the flamboyant 3rd Army tank commander’s eyes and ears.
Coast Guardsman LeRoy Zeedyk at ‘West Lock Disaster’ also Saipan, Guadalcanal & Philippines during WW II
Even before Watertender 1/C LeRoy Zeedyk of Venice sailed into the Southwest Pacific during World War II aboard amphibious landing ship, LST-169, as a member of Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur’s Allied task force he survived the “West Lock Disaster” at Pearl Harbor that killed and wounded scores of servicemen shortly before the invasion of Saipan.
Jim Walker was flight engineer on P-3 spy plane during ‘Cold War’
Jim Walker of Englewood, Fla. spent most of his 22 years of service in the U.S. Navy as a flight engineer on a P-3 four-engine reconnaissance plane searching for Soviet submarines or monitoring electronic signals from enemy missiles while flying in international waters just off the coast of aggressor countries.
Bill Hahn of PGI in charge of building ‘Doomsday Presidential Helicopter’ for Sikorsky
Bill Hahn of Punta Gorda, Fla. flew a P-2 “Neptune,” twin-engine Navy patrol plane for three years during the“Cold War” in the 1950s searching for Soviet submarines and communication ships off the Atlantic coast of the United States.
Marine Cpl. George Briede had his face blown off while fighting on Mt. Suribachi during WW II
George Briede, a scout-sniper attached to Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment, 4th Marine Division, was fighting his way up Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific in World War II when his luck ran out.
Joe Parry served aboard USS Wrangell at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Leyte in WW II
Joe Parry of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a radioman aboard an ammunition ship involved in three of the primary battles in the Pacific Theatre of Operation during World War II—Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines.
Former Sgt. Jim Franklin of Port Charlotte, Fla. fought in 5 major campaigns during Korean War
Jim Franklin of Port Charlotte, Fla. fought in five major battles as a member of the 82nd Automatic Weapons Battalion attached to the 2nd Infantry Division during the 11 months and 19 days he served at the start of the Korean War in 1950.
Radioman Sandy Dunn served aboard USS Achilles in the S.W. Pacific at close of WW II
A couple of days before Radioman 1/C Sandy Dunn of Chestnut Creek Subdivision in Venice, Fla. joined the crew of the USS Achilles (ARL-41 repair ship) during the Philippine Invasion on Nov. 12, 1944 while anchored in San Pedro Bay the fleet was attacked by Japanese kamikazes.
John Kohout of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined 11th Airborne and went to Pacific during WW II
By the time John Kohout of Port Charlotte, Fla. graduated from jump school at Fort Benning, Ga. V-E Day had come and gone. Since the Germans had already surrendered he became a replacement soldier in the 11th Airborne Division sent to the Philippines as part of the occupation force.
Bob Schaeffer of Maple Leaf Estates served as medic in Korea with 1st Marine Division
Bob Schaeffer of Maple Leaf Estates Golf & Country Club in Port Charlotte, Fla. was a Navy medic attached to the 1st Marine Division during the Korean War. Most of his overseas service was in a slit trench atop Hill 229 overlooking Pyongyang, North Korea. He was on the Main Line of Resistance, The MRL,…
Pfc. Joe Lukasek was cannoneer with 124th Anti-Aircraft Battalion that fought in World War II
Joe Lukasek of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a cannoneer in A-Company, 124th Anti-Aircraft Battalion attached to Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II. His anti-aircraft unit shot down German V-1 “Buzz Bombs” during the spring of 1944 as they flew over the White Cliffs of Dover. Later in the war they…
Al Tracy was U.S. Army spy operating behind ‘Iron Curtain’ in East Germany during ‘Cold War’
Al Tracy of Nokomis was a spy working in East Germany in the ‘60s. He was a member of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission operating out of spy headquarters in 1966 located in a big house in Potsdam.
Punta Gorda man was in Patton’s famed unit
Former Sgt. Ed Strnad pulled a massive 8-inch artillery piece behind a modified Sherman tank through Europe during World War II as part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army.
Lt. Col. Ian Milne had more combat time flying ‘Predator Drone’ than 20 years as Air Force pilot
In 2010, 17 years after Lt. Col. Ian Milne of Burnt Store Isles near Punta Gorda, Fla. retired from two decades of flying the hottest fighter-bombers in the U.S. Air Force’s arsenal, he was recruited by the military to retrain as a “Predator Drone” pilot during the “War on Terror” in the Middle East. He…
Lt. Col. Ian Milne of Burnt Store Isles flew F-4 ‘Phantom’ jet with nuclear bombs during ‘Cold War’
For two decades, from 1973 to 1993, Lt. Col. Ian Milne of Burnt Store Isles south of Punta Gorda, Fla. flew some of the U.S. Air Force’s most lethal fighter planes in this nation’s arsenal from air bases around the world.
Carter Archambeault of Port Charlotte, Fla. served aboard USS Hissem during ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’
Carter Archambeault of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy just in time for the Cuban Missile Crisis that mesmerized the world for two weeks during October 1962. It was a period in world events where the U.S. and the Soviet Union came close to starting a nuclear war.
Duane Waterman of Punta Gorda was on minesweeper in Pacific Theatre during World War II
Duane Waterman, who lives south of Punta Gorda, Fla. served aboard a minesweeper, USS YMS-200, at the end of World War II. He was a seaman 1st class and she was a wooden boat about 20 feet wide and 100-feet long.
Jacob Walker of Punta Gorda drove a Sherman tank during World War II
Jacob Walker of Punta Gorda, Fla. remembers, like it was yesterday, how he joined the service before the Second World War more than 75 years ago.
Joe Cigich was shot at only once in WWII
Only once during the whole time Joe Cigich fought his way through Europe with Gen. Omar Bradley’s 9th Army during World War II was he shot at by the enemy.
Sailor helped with top secret codes
Because he could type Ken Lubold of Englewood got a job shortly after the end of World War II transcribing Morris Code for the U.S. Navy and working the Navy’s top secret code machine while serving in Bremerhaven, Germany for a couple of years.
Treasured Zippo found
Two months ago, Ray Lynch lost his Zippo lighter in an Englewood Circle K. It meant a lot to him.
Richard Mikutis spent a year with 800th MP Battalion in Japan after war
Richard Mikutis of Port Charlotte was a teenaged military policeman who served with the U.S. 800th MP Battalion in Kyoto, Japan as part of our occupation troops immediately after the Second World War. It was an experience he never forgot.
Katherine Riposta tells husband, Frank’s, Korean War story: He shot at enemy & saved orphans
Pfc. Frank Riposta of Deep Creek, a Punta Gorda, Fla. subdivision, was a loader in a 105mm Howitzer artillery unit during the Korean War in ’52 and ’53. When he wasn’t firing his 105 at advancing North Korean soldiers he was working as a chaplain’s assistant talking to American soldiers about to go into the…
Sea duty for Arnold LeMoine aboard carrier USS Cape Esperance was dull & dangerous
During the Korea War era—from 1951 to 1955—Arnold LeMoine of Deep Creek subdivision near Punta Gorda served as a machinist-mate 3rd Class aboard the escort aircraft carrier USS Cape Esperance (CVE-88).
Carl Letterie of Venice graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1965
Carl Letterie was a 1965 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. After graduation his first assignment as a young second lieutenant was Fort Bliss, Texas to attend the Air Defense Officers Training School. From there he went to Fort Hancock, N.J. for a year as a member of a “Hawk Missile”…
David Cheney served in the Canal Zoned during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of 1962
The scariest part of David Cheney’s three years in the Army was during the “Cuban Missile Crisis” in 1962. He was attached to a communication’s outfit stationed in Panama and was within hours of being shipped to Cuba to take part in an invasion by U.S. forces.
Cpl. Wayne Hilton served in 11th Airborne Division during the occupation of Japan after WW II
Wayne Hilton of Deep Creek subdivision near Ponta Gorda, Fla. was a kid from Young County in northeast Texas when he joined the 11th Airborne Division in 1944 and shipped out to the Pacific during the closing days of the Second World War.
USS Quincy sunk by Japanese in battle off Guadalcanal
“When General Quarters sounded I went to my battle station,” 96-year-old Pete Cahill of Cape Haze, Fla. recalled a lifetime later. “I was one of six lookouts atop a 20-foot pole in the bow of the heavy cruiser USS Quincy off Guadalcanal. It was somewhere around 2 a.m.
Former Staff Sgt. Ken Bender served in 31st Coastal Artillery Battalion in WWII
For most of his three years in the Army during World War II Ken Bender of Oyster Creek subdivision in Englewood, Fla. was a sergeant in the 31st Coastal Artillery Battalion, 3rd Army in the South Pacific hopping from island to island.
Lt. Col. Al Johnson spent most of his time in the Air Force handling administration duties
Al Johnson, of Port Charlotte, Fla. attended University of South Carolina on a football scholarship, playing defensive cornerback for his team.
Don Moore’s War Tales reach 900-story milestone on web after years of story telling
Don Moore’s War Tales reached a milestone this week. There are now 900 war stories up on this website from almost every war this country has been involved in beginning with the American War Between the States right on up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pfc. Bud Jaderholm acted his way through the occupation in Japan shortly after WW II
“I tried to enlist in the Army, Navy, Air Corps and the Coast Guard near the end of World War II, but they all turned me down because of my eyes,” Bud Jaderholm of Oyster Creek Subdivision in Englewood, Fla. recalled. “Then for some reason the Air Corps drafted me and sent me to Wichita…
Captain faced tough challenges during WWII
Capt. Herbert Peters (Ret.) of Punta Gorda, Fla. landed at Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944, and continued fighting throughout Europe during the rest of the war. After the fighting was over, he became part of the occupation troops.
Lt. Jim Horner flew B-24 bomber on 46 combat missions in the Pacific during WW II
Jim Horner of Oyster Creek Subdivision in Englewood, Fla. was a second lieutenant and pilot of a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber who flew 46 combat missions in the Pacific during World War II as a member of the 320th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force.
Former Pfc. Lavern Hampton of Port Charlotte, Fla. served in 5 European campaigns during WW II
The European Theatre Ribbon on Pfc. Lavern Hampton’s chest had five bronze battle stars for five major campaigns he fought in during the Second World War —Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe.
His unit captured Der Füehrer’s sporty Mercedes convertible
Bob Granchi of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a “Screaming Eagle,” a member of the 101st Airborne Division that jumped behind German lines on D-Day. He was also surrounded by the enemy at Bastogne, Belgium, during “The Battle of the Bulge” in December 1944.
Lt. Col. Bob Hardy flew F-100 fighters in Vietnam and Korea during “Cold War”
With 16-hours of flight time under his belt in a North American F-100 “Super Sabre” during flight training at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Ala. in 1966, Bob Hardy who was a 26-year-old Air Force captain at the time, got the scare of his life.
The unsinkable dive bomber Number 2106
Midway was the decisive battle in the Pacific during Wolrd War II. Cpl. Gasper Buffa who serve in the U.S. Marine Corps was in the thick of it.
Lt. Col. Bob Hardy spied on Russians, flew jets in Vietnam and Korea before becoming American Airline pilot
One might say aviation was in Bob Hardy’s blood. The 76-year-old Port Charlotte, Fla. resident was 16 when he soloed. By the time he was in his early twenties he had joined the Air Force. He saw action flying on secret spy missions along the Russian coast, flew combat missions in Vietnam and Korea before he…
Aboard LST-582 at Okinawa with Pharmacist’s Mate Joe Dixon during WW II
“I have not read ‘The Sacrificial Lambs’ by Bill Sholin. But I am a veteran of three Pacific invasions, Okinawa was one of them,” his letter read.
Phil Fessenden was part of Squadron-62 that photographed ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’
The high-water mark of Phil Fessenden’s 30-year career in the Navy and the Air Force during the “Cold War” was when the Port Charlotte, Fla. resident was a member of Light Photographic Squadron 62 that took the low-level pictures of the Russian missiles in Cuba during the “Cuban Missile Crisis” in October 1962.
Sgt. Sigmund Sepanak was at Ie Shima when Japanese flew in – Colonel gives troops letter
I wrote a story in the Sunday, April 4, 2004 Charlotte Sun about Sgt. Giff Stowell of La Casa Mobile Home Park in North Port, Fla. who flew as a gunner/engineer aboard a B-24 “Liberator” bomber that ended up on Ie Shima Island off Okinawa when a Japanese surrender delegation flew in on Aug. 20,…
He was a ‘Carpetbagger’ – 2nd Lt. Jim Paton dropped saboteurs into Nazi occupied Europe in WW II
They called themselves the “Carpetbaggers,” the 801st Bomb Squadron, 492nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force flying out of North Hampton England for the Office of Strategic Services. Their mission: to drop saboteurs and their equipment at night behind enemy lines during World War II.
Howard Bolin fell in love with a ‘beautiful German girl’ as part of the occupation force in ’47
For Howard Bolin of Oyster Creek subdivision in Englewood, Fla. being a member of the U.S. Occupation Force in Germany immediately after World War II meant good times: pretty girls, beer halls, dancing, riding the army’s Harley Davidson motorcycles and playing on the battalion’s baseball team.
He was lucky to survive ‘Battle of the Bulge’
Herb Brough of Bobcat Trail subdivision, North Port, Fla. is a medical miracle. Almost 60 years ago, while serving as a “foot-slogger” in the 3rd Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Army at “The Battle of the Bulge” in Europe, he took a blow to the head he will never forget.
Lt. Eldon Mengel built the phone line to ‘Burma Road’
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 Eldon Mengel of Venice, Fla. was about a week away from becoming a “90-Day Wonder.” The 89-year-old local man joined the Army almost a year earlier because he had a low draft number and he knew he would be called once war broke out.
Mack Mileski of Englewood survived kamikaze attack during Battle of Leyte Gulf in WW II
Mack Mileski of Englewoodk, Fla. was standing on the deck of the escort carrier USS Santee (CVE-29) during the Battle of Leyte Gulf off the Philippine coast in World War II when his carrier was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze. Minutes later the flat-top was also hit by an enemy sub’s torpedo.
Civil War ended quickly, tragically for local man’s great-uncle
For Bud Brown of Port Charlotte, Fla. Wednesday, July 21st is the special day. That’s the day in 1861 when his great-uncle got his head blown off by a Confederate 12-pound cannonball during the first day of the First Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas) in Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C.
Maj. Thomas McGuire, #2 air ace shot down in P-38 fighter in Philippines
Maj. Thomas McGuire, the number two fighter ace-of-aces in the U.S. Air Force with 38 kills during World War II, was searching the Philippine sky on Jan. 7, 1945 for three more Japanese plans to splash when he was shot down and killed in “Pudgy V” his P-38 “Lightning” twin-engine fighter.
The story of the two flag-raisings on Mt. Suribachi during Battle of Iwo Jima
During the historic Battle of Iwo Jima, near the close of World War II, two American flags were raised by Marines on Mt. Suribachi. The second flag raising is the one most people in this country know about, but it was only an afterthought.
At 16 John Decates joined the Dutch Underground during WW II – Captured by the Germans, he was to be shot
I received a phone call from Betty Decates, the widow of John Decates, of Port Charlotte, Fla. She wanted to know if I could write a little something about her husband who died in December.
Charles Grubbs was a mechanic aboard USS Bennington that exploded killing 93 and injuring 113
Charles Grubbs of Port Charlotte, Fla. served as a structural airplane mechanic in Squadron VF-41 aboard the ill-fated aircraft carrier USS Bennington (CVA-20) in May of 1954 when she exploded killing 93 sailors and injuring an additional 113.
USS Surprise only ship in Navy to run out of fuel on equator during World War II – Coxswain Horatio Waite of Arcadia, Fla. was aboard
Horatio Simmons Waite was a Coxswain 2C on the USS Surprise PG-63, a patrol gunboat escorting cargo ships from Trinidad to Recife, Brazil, in January 1943.
Maj. Dick Napolitano was Air Force spy for 20 years, then he spied for NSA 20 more years
Dick Napolitano of Oyster Creek subdivision in Englewood, Fla. was a spy during most of his 20 years in the Air Force and for an additional 20 years he worked as a civilian spy for the National Security Agency.
Radar Operator 3rd/C Fred Rieger served aboard minesweeper at close of World War II
By the time Fred Rieger of Oyster Creek subdivision in Englewood, Fla.. joined the Navy on April 2, 1945 three of his older brothers were already sailors serving in World War II.
Orville Roones’ complaint, Merchant Mariners get no recognition
Orville Roones of Port Charlotte, Fla. served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. It’s one of the few outfits where men risked their lives serving their country during the Second World War that isn’t recognized for what they did, and he isn’t happy about it.
Sgt. Vic Morman helped liberate Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Former 1st Sgt. Vic Morman, who lives in Lexington Manor Assisted Living Facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., served in the 89th Infantry Division that liberated Auflenlage, part of Buchenwald, the infamous Nazi concentration camp near Ohrdruf, Germany, during the closing days of the war in Europe.
Because of a book, 2 old swabbies met after more than 50 years – George Chatterton and Bud Lightweis served aboard USS Antietam
It was all because of a book, “History of the USS Antietam, CV-36,” that two Venice Fla. swabbies got togethe more than half a century after they went to sea during World War II.
Radioman Lowell Biderman of Englewood missed WW II, but served in Japan & China anyway
By the time Radioman 3rd/C Lowell Biderman of Oyster Creek subdivision in Englewood left California headed for Japan World War II was over. The Nazis had surrendered in May 1945 and the Japanese in August of the same year after Atomic Bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Cliff Hill recalls ‘Rebel Devil’ was a miracle fighter plane
Clifford Hill, a former resident of Englewood, who now lives in Venice, Fla, flew a P-47 Thunderbolt and later a P-51 Mustang fighter plane in Europe during World War II. He was a member of the 318th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group of the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Italy. This is his…
Robert Gaydosh: USS Bennington ’Jinxed ship,’ killed scores of shipmates in ’54 explosion
Robert Gaydosh of Lakewood Village, east of Punta Gorda, Fla. was an airman on the flight deck of the carrier USS Bennington (CVA-20) on May 26, 1954 when it blew up in the Atlantic off the east coast of the U.S. killing 93 sailors and injuring 113 more.
Marine recalls Iwo Jima years after WW II battle
Sgt. Gary Hoffman of Englewood, Fla. who spent time in the Marines half a lifetime ago, contacted me a while back. He’s a Sun reader who likes war stories. Consequently he looks at my column from time to time. More importantly the old Marine e-mailed me a story he liked. I liked it too, so…
Pfc. Tom Cavanagh saw Guam, Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki & Hiroshima during occupation at end of WW II
Pfc. Tom Cavanagh, Jr. of Punt Gorda, Fla. arrived at Pearl Harbor aboard a troop transport with thousands of other Marines. World War II was 10 months from being over.
Nate Winkler, local Marine saw Iraq up close and personal
Nate Winkler just completed a five-year hitch in he U.S. Marine Corpse. He’s back in town with his wife and baby following completion of a tour of duty in Iraq.
New Guinea cannibals eye Air Corps Sgt. Francis Drab for Sunday dinner
Sgt. Francis Drab of Venice, Fla. was a member of the 5th Air Force stationed in the Pacific during World War II. He has a war story that almost rivals James Mitchner’s “Tales of the South Pacific.”
Sp-3 Francis D’Urso was on H-19 helicopter crew that flew Cardinal Spellman around Korea in ’55
When Francis D’Urso of North Port. Fla. arrived in Korea in 1955 as a member of the 13th Helicopter Company based in Uijongbu, South Korea, approximately 80 miles north of Seoul and 30 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, he was a 19-year-old specialist-3rd class crew chief on a 19-H “Chickasaw” Sikorsky-built helicopter.
Al Trombi finally hears rest of his war story – Englewood, Fla. man was 8 seconds from eternity
Al Trombi of Englewood, Fla. just returned from the first-ever Kamikaze Survivors Reunion held in Everett, Wash., last week. It was the trip of a lifetime for him.
Jim Koder served aboard 6 aircraft carriers during his 22-year Naval career from ’60 to ’82
Jim Koder of Port Charlotte, Fla. spent more than 20 years in the Navy. Much of the time he served aboard six aircraft carriers—the Ranger, Bennington, John F. Kennedy, Saratoga, Forrestal and the Lexington—as an Aviation Ordinance-man to begin with, then he became an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert starting with the Cuban Missile Crisis in…
Sgt. Sapp was the best platoon sergeant there ever was, in my view
I don’t normally write war stories about myself, but since this is “Black History Month” I thought it was appropriate to talk about my first time away from home in the integrated U.S. Army. This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun daily newspaper on Feb. 23, 2004.
Sgt. Taylor saved soldiers’ lives in Iraq War
By the time Daren Taylor reached Iraq during “Operation Enduring Freedom” at Christmas time 2005, he had served more than three years in the Army as a combat medic. He was a sergeant attached to the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.
Capt. Scott Moyer, 1st Sgt. Jim Hargis earn Combat Infantryman’s Badge in Iraq
There are few commendations more important to a U.S. Army soldier than the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. One-inch high by three-inches-long with a silver infantry musket and an oak leaf wreath says the soldier wearing it came under enemy fire.
Bud Whitney arrived at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard 6 days before Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941
When the Japanese bombed America’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor shortly before 8 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941 “Bud” Whitney was a 19-year-old electrician’s helper working at the Navy Yard in Pearl. He had dropped out of high school, taken a civil service exam and agreed to go to Hawaii to work as a civilian with…
Budd Brown fought the Korean War with a sax in his hand
Budd Brown of Port Charlotte, Fla. fought the Korean War with a saxophone in his hand. He serve as a member of the 2nd Platoon, 10th Special Services Company, 8th Army from January 1952 until February 1953.
Marine barracks in Lebanon blown up, 241 killed in blast 33 years ago
It was 33 years ago that 241 U.S. Marines were killed when a terrorist truck bomb went off next to a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon while they were trying to keep the peace between Isralies and Lebanese.
Sp-4 Robert Weatherhead lost right leg at end of Vietnam tour
Minutes before Spc.-4 Robert Weatherhead was to fly out of the Vietnam jungle in 1969 at the end of his tour with the 25th Infantry Division, he and his buddies got in a firefight with a couple of North Vietnam Army regulars. Then he stepped on an enemy mine and lost his right leg.
He was off Omaha Beach on D-Day, Jim Kolka was aboard USS Ezra Cornell
Almost a week before D-Day, Seaman 1st Class Jim Kolka was waiting in the English Channel aboard a liberty ship, the USS Ezra Cornell off the coast of France, along with tens of thousands of other American servicemen, for the Invasion of Normandy to begin.
Jim Winslow of Venice, Fla. served aboard nuclear sub USS Francis Scott Key during Vietnam War
Jim Winslow of Venice, Fla. served as an electrician’s mate 2nd class aboard the ballistic missile submarine Francis Scott Key during the Vietnam War era. He helped keep the nuclear reactor that powered the sub running during his six-year hitch in the service.
He kept the engines of war running – Sgt. Harold Wallace got gas and diesel to the front
Harold Wallace of Arcadia. Fla. was a sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 782nd Engineering Petroleum Distribution Company serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. It was his unit’s job to get gasoline and diesel fuel to the front line for the engines of war.
Nick Casertano of Venice, Fla. fought with Merrill’s Marauders during WW II
Nick Casertano of Venice, Fla. helped Merrill’s Marauders rid the Burma Road of Japanese soldiers during World War II. He was a mortar-man in the 475th Infantry Regiment.
Luck played big part in Jay Vredevoogd’s World War II experience in Italy
It’s all a bit fuzzy now for 87-year-old Jay Vredevoogd of Port Charlotte, Fla. who served as an engineer in Gen. Mark Clark’s 5th Army in North Africa, Sicily and Italy in World War II. He was in many of the major battles during the Italian Campaign.
Pfc. Bill Kilfeder was tanker in 2nd Armored Division — fought in North Africa, Sicily and Europe
Bill Kilfeder has a connection to the Douglas T. Jacobson State Veterans Nursing Home in Port Charlotte. His daughter, Liz Barton, runs the place.
Lt. Col. Bill Richardson of Port Charlotte, Fla. served in WW II, Korea and Vietnam
Lt. Col. Bill Richardson (Ret) of Port Charlotte, Fla. fought in three of this country’s wars—World War II, Korea and Vietnam — during his 33 – years of military service.
Young aviation cadet writes to mom from Arcadia, Fla. in 1918 near end of WW I
I was recently given copies of 14 letters from a young flying cadet named “Clarence” taking “Pursuit Training” at Carlstrom Field, just south of Arcadia, Fla. in the fall of 1918. He sent the letters to his mother. DeSoto County historian Howard Melton let me read them. The letters are interesting and talk a little…
Ozzie Nelson of Port Charlotte, Fla. was operating room Army nurse in WWII
2nd Lt. Ozzie Nelson, an ‘Army nurse attached to the 6th Field Hospital, sailed for Europe abroad the ocean liner SS Ile de France late in World War II. It was the experience of a lifetime.
Carl Cowin joins Marines shortly before Pearl Harbor attack more than 75-years ago
When Carl Cowin of Country Club Estates in Venice, Fla. sailed into Pearl Harbor he was a scared 17-year-old Marine. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl and almost all of the battleships in America’s Pacific Fleet were sunk in the harbor at dockside.
Local veteran photographed Ted Williams’ crashed jet during Korean War
Richard Gross of North Port, Fla. remembers the late Ted Williams more a war hero than a baseball superstar.
Tom Martorana of Venice served aboard LCT almost hit by kamikaze at Okinawa
Okinawa, the largest and most people-costly battle in the Pacific during World War II began Easter Sunday morning, Apr. 1, 1945. When it was over 82 days later on June 22 — 12,500 American Marines, Sailors, Solders and Airmen were dead and 55,000 were wounded on the 65-mile-long island.
He flew ‘The Hump’ 18 times – Cpl. Maurice Pouliot C-54 crew chief in WW II
When Cpl. Maurice Pouliot of Buttonwood Village mobile home park in Punta Gorda, Fla. reached the Army air base at Jorhat, India, in the Assan Valley at the base of the Himalayas the Germans were about to surrender and the war with Japan was within six months of being over.
Electrician’s-mate 1st Class Tony Faella made 5 combat cruises aboard sub USS Spearfish during Second World War
Tony Faella of Venice, Fla. made five combat tours in the Pacific aboard the submarine USS Spearfish (SS-190) during World War II — from 1942 until war’s end in ’45. He served as an electrician’s mate 1st class.
Jack Wright served in Royal Army Medical Corps in North Africa during WWII
Jack Wright became a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps shortly after World War II erupted in Europe in 1939. He was assigned to the 19th General Hospital after he was drafted on Sept. 18, 1940.
Sgt. Merle Branstetter of Burnt Store Marina served in 94th General Hospital unit in Europe during WW II
Because he could type Merle Branstetter of Burnt Store Marina south of Punta Gorda, Fla. got a job shortly after graduating from high school in 1939. He went to work for a small newspaper in his Iowa home town running a Linotype machine producing newspaper type. Two years later he received an athletic scholarship from…
Glenn Jenkins still fighting the VA over benefits after 18 years – All of his children have congenital defects
Glenn Jenkins of Venice, Fla. first walked into my life sometime in 1986. He showed up at the Gondolier newspaper office and told me his incredible story about being used as a guinea pig by the U.S. Navy in a secret mustard gas experiment near the end of World War II.
Victor Brenk of Burnt Store Marina kept Patton’s 3rd Army moving during battle for Europe in WW II
Victor Brenk of Burnt Store Marina, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was 18 when he joined Gen. George S. Patton in Europe during World War II as a member of the 851st Ordinance Heavy Auto Maintenance Company. His primary job was to keep the trucks and machinery in “Old Blood and Guts’” army operating.
‘Medal of Honor’ recipient Hector Cafferata of Venice, Fla. dies at 86
Hector Cafferata, a Korean War “Medal of Honor” recipient died Tuesday, April 12, 2016, of natural causes at his Venice, Fla. home. He was 86.
Jerry Enos served aboard USS Essex at Bay of Pigs & USS Enterprise during Cuban Missile Crisis
Jerry Enos of Port Charlotte, Fla. loved his time in the U.S. Navy. He signed up at 17 in 1955 when he was still in high school and spent almost 20 years on the decks of some of the Navy’s biggest and fastest ships as an aviation structural mechanic.
Shot down over Germany – Ed Dostie of Englewood survived 690 days, mostly in Stalag-17
He was on his fourth mission over Germany in a B-17 bomber called “Sky Wolf” when his luck ran out. It was June 13, 1943, their target: the submarine pens at Wilhelmshaven, a major North Sea port.
Sgt. James Hawn had both feet frozen in march to Chosin Reservoir with 1st. Marine Division
The week before James Hawn of Port Charlotte, Fla. graduated from Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. in June 1950 the Korean War began. He and the other recruits in his company became part of the 1st Marine Division that played a major role in the Inchon Invasion and the historic march to…
Leslie Megyeri of Venice began his military career as resistance fighter in ’56 Hungarian Revolution
Student unrest in Budapest, Hungary in 1956 launched a national uprising: The Hungarian Revolution against the Hungarian People’s Republic and dominance by the Soviet Union. It was the first people’s uprising since the Russians drove the Nazis out of the country in 1945 at the end of World War II.
Art Nicholas made ‘Knight of the Legion of Honor’ by France for service in WW II
Art Nicholas of Englewood received France’s highest military decoration, “Knight of the Legion of Honor,” at a ceremony held Saturday at Boca Royale Golf & Country in Englewood, Fla. He was honored for his service to France and its people a lifetime ago during World War II.
It took him nearly 60 years to get the answer – Roy Sannella wondered what caused ships to explode at Pearl
Roy Sannella of Port Charlotte feels like Sherlock Holmes. Truth is, I made that up. But I’m sure that’s the way he must feel now that he has the answer to a question that’s been nagging at him for 58 years.
Sgt. John Adams kept secret electronics going aboard B-24 for Office of Strategic Services in WW II
Sgt. John Adams had a top secret security clearance in the Army Air Corps because he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was in charge of keeping all of the electronic equipment operational aboard an all black B -24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber that delivered supplies and…
Stephen Worden served aboard nuclear subs USS Monroe & USS Carver in Vietnam Era
Stephen Worden of Port Charlotte. Fla. was a 1st Class Navigational Aids Technician aboard a couple of ballistic missile submarines —the USS James Monroe (SSBN-622) and the USS George Washingyon Carver (SSBN-656) — during the Vietnam War era.
A flight on the wild side – Gen. Gerald Milmoyle flew U-2 spy plane over Cuba during missile crisis
Sometimes the stories I receive from readers are better than anything I can write. Here is a fine example of what I’m talking about: “Today marks the 41st anniversary, Oct. 27, 2003, of the end of the Cuban missile crisis.
Former Sgt. ‘Beaver’ Radenbaugh of Eagle Point was tanker in 3rd Armored Division in Europe
“Beaver” Radebaugh of Eagle Point mobile home park south of Punta Gorda, Fla.. was a little guy, not much more than five feet tall. He was just the right height to be a Sherman tank driver, part of the 3rd Armored Division that spearheaded Gen. Omar Bradley’s 1st Army through Belgium, across the Rhine River…
Sgt. Alfred Mountenay returns to Assoro after 62 years – His unit took 1,100-foot mountain away from Herman Goering Regiment
The 85-year-old South Venice, Fla. man was a machine gunner who served as a sergeant during World War II in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, a Canadian unit. He and 10 of his buddies from the old unit, wearing their red berets and blue blazers, went back to central Sicily to see the cliff…
Did he shoot a Japanese Zero fighter plane down with bow and arrow?
1st Lt. Ralph Calef is undoubtedly the only soldier at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, who shot at Japanese fighters with a bow and arrow.