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.
By Don Moore
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.
1st. Lt. Ward Abbett awarded Silver Star and 3 Bronze Stars with Vs in first 4 months fighting in Vietnam War
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 and son present Marine Corps Commandant with Vietnam memento
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…
Spec.-5 Dennis Poulakis was computer programer on Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile in ‘60s
Dennis Poulakis of Port Charlotte, Fla. served in the U.S. Army’s North American Air Defense Command in the ’60s.
North Port man flew a Wildcat off USS Tulagi in WWII
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.
Phil Harris and destroyer’s crew plucked Gemini-8 astronauts out of Pacific in ’66
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.
He jumped with 101st Airborne at D-Day invasion – Cpl. Ed Stecher fought from Normandy to Prague
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).
Spc. 4 Harry Stapleton was tanker for 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam in ’68-’69
Harry Stapleton of Punta Gorda, Fla. drove an M-48 “Patton” tank in Vietnam in 1968-69 named “Crimson and Clover.” The 69-year-old local resident maintains “I was no hero,” but he found himself in some firefights with the enemy he distinctly recalls almost 50 years later.
Ed Crosby sailed around Cape Horn aboard destroyer escorting Carrier USS Oriskany
Ed Crosby of Port Charlotte, Fla. served aboard a couple of destroyers, the USS John V. Powers (DD-839) and the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823), during the Korean War era. What he remembers best about his four years in the service is escorting the carrier USS Oriskany around Cape Horn abroad the Powers and making…
DuWayne Schoeneck was a Navy cook in WW II who almost sailed on Edmund Fitzgerald when she sank
DuWayne Schoeneck was supposed to be the chief cook aboard a LCMR (Landing Craft Medium Rocket) Navy ship headed for Okinawa, the largest island battle in the Pacific during the Second World War. He never made it.
Walter Kaiser helped discover secret Russian underwater communication line & disarm nuclear bomb in Spain
Walter Kaiser’s 26-year career in the Navy is divided into two parts. During his first decade he served in the Submarine Service searching for secret Soviet transmission cables on the sea floor off Russia. Then he became a Master Bomb Disposal Technician during his last 16 years and helped disarm an errant U.S. nuclear bomb…
Local WWII veteran to get France’s highest award: ‘Legion of Honor’
Art Nicholas, of the Oak Forrest subdivision in Englewood, Fla., has been selected as a recipient of France’s highest distinction. He will be named a “Knight of the Legion of Honor” for the part he played in the Normandy Invasion of France during World War II.
He was wounded at 3-years-old during Pearl Harbor attack by Japanese in ’41
At three years old, Philip Riddle of North Fort Myers. Fla. was a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was wounded by a stray .50-caliber machine -gun bullet when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 catapulting the United States into World War II.
Jim Knight was a German POW in World War II
Jim Knight went overseas as a BAR (Browning Automatic Weapons) man with Patton’s 3rd Army, 76th Infantry Division, 17th Regiment, Company L. Of all of the actions he took part in two are indelibly etched in his memory. The first is his assault across the Sauer River and the seconds the action which resulted in…
Ed Jensen recalls crews aboard destroyer USS Caperton as high point of naval service
What Ed Jensen of Englewood, Fla. remembers most about his four year hitch in the Navy was the eight month cruise he took aboard the Fletcher class destroyer USS Caperton (DD-650) through the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Sgt. Chris Grilo is about to go back to Iraq on a second tour. He can’t wait
The 34-year-old reserve sergeant is a member of Headquarters Company, 800th MP Brigade. This is the outfit that took part in the infamous Abu Ghraib Prison debacle.
Sgt. John Sanderson and his LRRP intelligence team played cat & mouse with enemy in Vietnam
Sgt. John Sanderson of Heron Creek subdivision in North Port, Fla. was the leader of the first LRRP team attached to the 4th Infantry Division during the Vietnam War.
Military intelligence was his job in three wars – Lt. Col. Bill Richardson saw action in WW II, Korea and Vietnam
By the time World War II rolled around, Bill Richardson had just graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in industrial management. He had already been commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Joe Picerno of Port Charlotte and his 7 brothers were in WW II and Korean War
Joe Picerno of Port Charlotte, Fla. had seven brothers. He and four of them served in the U.S. Army in World War II. His three younger brothers were in the Army during the Korean War. Natal, who was born just before Joe, was a POW of the Germans, captured at the Battle of the Bulge.
Stuart Nord served with 1st Cavalry during ‘Tet Offensive’ fighting near Hue
Stuart Nord of North Port, Fla. was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division when he flew into Vietnam shortly before the Tet Offensive Jan. 30, 1968. Tet was the nationwide attack by North Vietnamese Army troops and Vietcong guerrillas on the major cities and military bases in the south.
John Barrow saw Japanese women at Saipan throw babies off cliff then jump themselves
John Henry Barrow II of Royal Palm Retirement Centre in Port Charlotte, Fla. served aboard a destroyer and a sub chaser in the Pacific during World War II. He took part in some of the major battles—Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa to name three. Saipan is the one the 90-year-old former local sailor remembers best.
He was tail gunner in B-24 “Liberator” that bombed Volkach, Germany Christmas Day
Stanley Niemczura of Gardens of Gulf Cove south of Englewood, Fla. was a tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” in the 15th Air Force in Italy during World War II.
Christmas for my men aboard sub USS Threadfin during WW II
Doris Gaines of Port Charlotte, Fla. called me to let me know she had a Christmas story taken from the memoirs of her late brother, Petty Officer First Class Gordon McDaniel. He served aboard the submarine USS Threadfin during World War II.
Proud granddaughter writes about grandfather’s Christmas dinner
When Billie Jo Forrester was a freshman in college she had to write a short paper for her English class. She entitled it: “My Grandparents’ Stories.”
A Christmas dinner to remember during WW II
“We were in the 3rd Army’s drive into Luxembourg as part of Gen. George S. Patton’s troops in Europe during World War II,” Sgt. Otto Brauer of Venice, Fla. said.
Sgt. Jim Dewhirst flew as B-24 radioman during WW II, part of 467th Bombardment Group
Jim Dewhirst was a radio operator aboard one of the many B-24 “Liberator” bombers comprising the 467th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force flying out of Rackheath, England that was turning Germany into rubble.
Capt. Charles Schild shot down 2 Zeros & a bomber at Guadalcanal in Wildcat fighter plane during WW II
For Capt. Charles Schild (Ret.) of southwest Florida, World War II was divided into two parts — the uninteresting part and the interesting part.
His wallet was difference between life and death for Sgt. Otis Nickerson who survived Battle of Bulge
Otis Nickerson kept the beat-up old brown leather wallet all these years. Even though it was cut in half, it was his most cherished memento of World War II.
Sgt. Herb Francis served in Air Force’s secret Security Service during ‘Cold War’
Herb Francis of Punta Gorda, Fla. had been in the U.S. Air Force a few years when he got a chance to join the super secret Security Service. It was 1964, in the middle of the “Cold War,” when he became an airborne spy.
Japan’s declaration of war and surrender starting and ending World War II
Ernie Rutherford of Sandlehaven in Cape Haze was aboard a Navy communication boat during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, one of the pivotal days of World War II.
Pvt. Leslie Kendrick of Port Charlotte, Fla. did tour in Baghdad, Iraq
When Pvt. Leslie Kendrick joined the Army shortly after graduating from Port Charlotte High School in Port Charlotte, Fla. in 2003. She thought she was going to be in an office shuffling papers and doing a little typing. It didn’t work out that way.
Bob Adams unites with buddies from USS Libra who served with him during Korean War
Bob Adams, like Henry Fonda in the hit 1955 Hollywood movie “Mr. Roberts,” was stuck in the backwater of the Korean War aboard an attack transport, the USS Libra, AKA-12. In the movie Fonda served aboard the USS Reluctant,’ a similar ship, going no where during World War II in the Pacific.
German cut loose with his machine gun – ‘I took 16 bullets in my stomach, side, arm & shoulder’
Sgt. Chuck Beaty was leading an advanced patrol of the 7th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd Division. It was part of Gen. George S. Patton’s 7th Army that invaded Sicily in July 1943 during World War II.
Sgt. Ray Wiseman spent most of his 27 years in the Air Force repairing communication equipment
Ray Wiseman of Port Charlotte, Fla. served 27 years in the U.S. Army. He began his military career as a 17-year-old private from the hills of North Carolina in 1951 and retired as a chief master sergeant in 1979. He never fired a shot in anger during the Korean or Vietnam wars.
Pork Chop Hill, along the 38th Parallel in Korea was 1st Sgt. Dave Evans’ baptism of fire
It was winter time in 1953 when Dave Evans’ Marine Ranger unit arrived on Pork Chop Hill, just north of the 38th Parallel that would separate North Korea from South Korea. He was an 18-year-old Leatherneck just out of boot camp experiencing his baptism of fire.
MacArthur subject of Southwest Florida man’s favorite military photo
The pinnacle of Patrick Farino’s photographic career hangs on the wall in his home overlooking the Peace River in Punta Gorda, Fla. It’s a picture of Gen. Douglas MacArthur walking down a Boston street following a parade in his honor shortly after he was fired by President Harry Truman during the Korean War.
Pvt. John Newton received Congressional Gold Medal for World War II service
The Congressional Gold Medal and accompanying commendation on the living room wall of Marine Corps Pvt. John Newton’s apartment at Regency House in Port Charlotte, Fla. was presented to him and several hundred other black World War II Marines during a formal ceremony held on June 27, 2012 at the United States Capital Visitors Center…
Pvt. Bill Denton showed up for World War II a bit too late
Pvt. Bill Denton was on a troop train headed from the Marine training base at Parris Island, S.C., to San Diego, Calif., for shipment to the Pacific Theater of Operations when the young leathernecks got word the Japanese had surrendered unconditionally and World War II was over.
Mary O’Neil of La Casa became 18-year-old clerk typist in Washington before WW II started
When Mary O’Neil of La Casa Mobile Home Park in North Port, Fla. went to Washington, D.C. in 1941, she was an 18-year-old civilian clerk typist who had just graduated from high school in Houston, Mo. her hometown.
Former Lt. Col. Tom Block 199th Inf. battalion commander Vietnam 67-68
By the time Tom Block arrived in Vietnam in 1967 he was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army with time spent learning to be an Army Ranger, Senior Parachutist and a Pathfinder. He graduated from college a decade earlier with a degree in accounting. He also received his ROTC 2nd lieutenant bars at the…
Pfc. Jim Picard arrived on Ie Shima island after Ernie Pyle was shot by Japanese
A couple of weeks after Ernie Pyle, the most famous war correspondent in World War II, was killed by a Japanese bullet on Ie Shima Island off Okinawa, Pfc. Jim Picard and his 90 mm antiaircraft gun crew arrived.
Staff Sgt. Michael Tristano flew 35 missions as gunner on B-17 bomber in WW II
On most of his 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, Staff Sgt. Michael Tristano of Heron Creek subdivision in North Port, Fla. flew as a ball-turret gunner on a “Flying Fortress,” a B-17 bomber.
Former Sgt. Mike Vucic served with 1st, 3rd, 7th and 15th Armies during WW II in Europe
When he landed on the beach at Normandy, France a few days after the initial invasion of Europe by Allied forces during World War II, Pfc. Mike Vucic of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 18-year-old rifleman in the 79th Infantry Division attached to Gen. Omar Bradley’s 1st Army. By V-E Day (Victory in Europe) eight…
Englewood sailor back from war In Afghanistan
Jarrod Wetherington came home from the Arabian Sea and the fighting in Afghanistan Friday evening. [June 28, 2002]
Bill Fields of North Port served in many units during his 29 years in the military
Bill Fields, an 85-year-old North Port, Fla. resident, signed up in 1947 for the New Jersey National Guard with a couple of high school buddies.
Old showman had time of his life playing nightclubs in New York, Miami and Keys
Hap Saams is still a showman at 98. The former big-band musician and star of a one-man nightclub act is still going strong these days at lunchtime at the Royal Palm Retirement Centre in Port Charlotte, Fla..
Lt. Col. Russell Howard of Port Charlotte was airborne sleuth during ‘Cold War’
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Russell Howard of Port Charlotte, Fla. began his 22 year career in the military as a young ROTC 2nd lieutenant who became an electronics warfare officer. In the beginning he flew aboard a Strategic Air Command B-52 “Stratofortress” flying out of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Ga. preparing…