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.