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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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,…
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 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.
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.
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…
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. 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, 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, Fla. remembers, like it was yesterday, how he joined the service before the Second World War more than 75 years ago.
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.
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.
Two months ago, Ray Lynch lost his Zippo lighter in an Englewood Circle K. It meant a lot to him.
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.
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…
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 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”…
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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 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.
“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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
“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.
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.
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,…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
U.S. Army Capt. Carrie Wibben is the first of her kind. The 26-year-old graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point is the first woman to be selected commander of the guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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 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.
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.”
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 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 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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
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 (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.
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…
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.
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.
Richard Gross of North Port, Fla. remembers the late Ted Williams more a war hero than a baseball superstar.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
“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…
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…
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.
When 1st Lt. Ward Abbett arrived in Vietnam aboard a purple Braniff Airline he was a well-educated, seasoned soldier. He was a graduate of “The Citadel” in Charleston, S.C. He also spent his first year in the Army stateside as the executive officer of a headquarters company, but he wanted to see action in Vietnam.
Randy Smith of Venice, Fla. isn’t just any Marine. He’s a former Marine Guard, who on April 29, 1975, took down the American flag for the last time at the United States Embassy in Saigon then flew away in the next to last U.S. helicopter to leave that beleaguered capital at the close of the…
Dennis Poulakis of Port Charlotte, Fla. served in the U.S. Army’s North American Air Defense Command in the ’60s.
During the Battle for the Philippines in World War II, Lt. j.g. Harley Cox of North Port, Fla. was catapulted off the deck of the carrier USS Tulagi (CVE-72) at the instant the engine of his Wildcat fighter died. He and his plane plunged into the sea in the path of his oncoming flattop.
The high point of Phil Harris’ four-year naval career was the rescue of two Gemini 8 astronauts on March 16, 1966 in the Pacific by the crew of the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852). The 69 year-old Burnt Store Meadows, Fla. resident served as a machinist-mate aboard the ship.
Ed Stecher of Punta Gorda, Fla. joined the 101st Airborne Division in February 1942 when he was 19-years-old. He jumped as part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France, 62 years ago today on June 6, 1944 (when first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper).