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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Tom Upright, who lives with his wife Sue, in Grand Palm, Venice, FL, is a U.S. Marine—first, last, and always.
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.
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, 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.
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, 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…
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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…
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.
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 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.
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…
Returning to Vietnam was no sentimental journey for Bob Ruybal after 50 years.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 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 was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in 1967 during the war in Vietnam. He flew for Marine Helicopter Squadron 163 out of Phu Bai.
Robert Ruybal of North Port was finishing up his senior year at the University of Colorado in 1968 when he bombed the last semester.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Randy Laney of Englewood flew helicopters for 45 years both in the Army and as a commercial chopper pilot after he was discharged.