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.
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.
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.
Frank Miale made four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. He survived the war, came home and wrote a book called “Stragedy” about his war experiences.
Randy McConnell of Nokomis, Fla. received seven Purple Hearts, more than any other living American soldier, for six months of intensive fighting with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during the “Tet Offensive” in 1968. He was also awarded two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor together with an Army Commendation Medal with…
The Tet Offensive, the largest enemy assault of the Vietnam War, was Spc. 4 Donald Hirkey’s introduction to Southeast Asia almost 40 years ago. The 65-year-old North Port man was a member of A-Company, 2nd-Battalion, 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, part of “The Screaming Eagles,” the 101st Airborne Division.
Pfc. William McWha, Serial No. 31305306, was a replacement soldier. He was one of the tens of thousands of American infantrymen from the “Repo Depot” who were put on the front lines in the heat of battle during World War II to replace killed or wounded soldiers.
1st Lt. Andy Carrico’s D-Company platoon, part of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, trained for five months on New Guinea in preparation for their assault on the Japanese-held island of Leyte. When his regiment landed on the beach at Leyte the enemy was nowhere to be found. But Carrico and the rest of his airborne…
Long before his squad slogged through the black volcanic beach on Iwo Jima in February 1945, Sgt. Paul Vnencak, who winters in Port Charlotte, had seen considerable action as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.
For James Broner of Englewood, Fla., Dec. 7, 1942 is a day he will always remember. That was the day his older brother was killed by a Japanese machine gunner and he lost his left leg to a sniper’s bullet. Both incidents took place within hours of each other a few hundred feet apart at…
It was Feb. 22, 1945 and 2nd Lt. Jack LeBoeuf was flying his Corsair fighter from the deck of the carrier USS Essex as a member of Marine Fighter Squadron 213. Destination, Tokyo!
Les Barth was no soldier. He was a music man. Being a gunner in a tank destroyer in Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II was the furthest thing from his mind a lifetime ago. He was 19 years old when drafted in January 1943. Before Uncle Sam got a hold of…
The commendation accompanying 1st. Lt. Charles Maloney’s Bronze Star and Purple Heart doesn’t tell the whole story about the terrible time he and his heavy-machine-gun outfit had in the Hürtgen Forest along the German-Belgium border during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
It was 1st Lt. William Standish’s worst nightmare. He and the men in his platoon were charging a German-held house in the fog atop Hill 566, just south of Bologna, Italy, during World War II. The fog lifted and they were standing in the open, 50 feet away from an enemy machine-gun position.
Staff Sgt. Raymond Jewett was a combat photographer in July 1964 attached to the U.S. military Assistance Command in Vietnam.
“I saw a 60-ton German Tiger tank about 100-feet away. It had nine machine guns and one 88 mm cannon pointing right at us,” Sgt. William Nickell of Punta Gorda, Fla. wrote in his World War II memoirs.
Bill Tannatt of Englewood, Fla. and Milton Dorr of Worcester, Mass., started out as members of the Yankee Division, the Massachusetts National Guard’s 26th Infantry Division, and ended up in the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division of the 5th Army during World War II.
The first day former Sgt. Mike Labick arrived in Normandy in September 1944 he wound up in a front line foxhole at Saint-Lo as a newly-minted member of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
John Silvani grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Detroit, Mich., graduated from high school about the time World War II began and went to work at the Ford plant in Dearborn as a teenage tool-and-die maker after receiving a military deferment.
Rodger Craig had just graduated from high school in 1950 and signed up to be a Marine about the time the Korean War started. He was in boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. when war broke out.
Former Cpl. Abraham Coleman joined the U.S. Army in 1947 at 17, “just to get the hell away from Punta Gorda.” He wanted to find a better life with more opportunities for a young black man than living in a small Southern town.
A harmonica stopped a bullet from hitting Pcf. Al Partridge ‘s heart during the 5th Army’s assault in Italy’s Apennine Mountains in January 1944.
A week after the Japanese bombed the Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, dragging the United States into World War II, Frank Garcia joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Minutes after the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis‘ bow was blown away by a torpedo fired by Japanese submarine I-58 on July 30, 1945, Ensign Harlan Twible was treading water in the shark-infested, inky waters of the Philippine Sea.
Pvt. Ray Kari was the youngest, least-trained medic in Company B, 169th Infantry, 43rd Division when he waded ashore in the middle of the night on a small attol just off New Georgia Island in the southwest Pacific a lifetime ago.
Wally Weber of Burnt Store Country Club didn’t have to sweat the draft during World War II. His father was the chairman of the local draft board in the little town in Oklahoma where he grew up.
Nine German torpedo boats attacked eight American transport ships in Lyme Bay off the southern coast of England near the village of Slapton Sands in South Devon, during the wee hours of April 28, 1944. By dawn, 749 Americans died and 1000 more were casualties of war.
More than 60 years ago, former Sgt. Robert Martin of Englewood, Fla. was a back seat gunner in a Douglas Dauntless SBD single-engine dive bomber flying against Japanese fortifications on Bougainville in the New Georgia Islands in the Pacific during World War II. He was a member of Marine Dive Bomber Squadron 234.
Walter Levasseur a former master sergeant in the U.S. Army, served two tours of duty in Vietnam in 1967 and 1970. By the time he was through, he had received the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster for being wounded a second time, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars — one for valor the…
Jim Mazy, who lives south of Englewood, Fla. was a radio operator in Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. He was wounded in “Operation Starlite,” the first major battle of the Vietnam War between American forces and the Viet Cong near Chu Lai, South Vietnam in 1965.
U.S. Marine Pfc. Bob Crossley of Venice, Fla. hit the beach on Iwo Jima in a Higgins boat in the third wave on Feb. 19, 1945. He was a member of the 5th Marine Division, 26th Regiment, 2nd Battalion D-Company.
Larry Izzo of the Oak Forest subdivision in Englewood, Fla. was a 21-year-old corporal attached to the G-Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. He was a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) man.
Pfc. Vito Mancine of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 21-year-old Browning Automatic Rifleman when he landed in Normandy, France, about a month after D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was a member of the 5th Division in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army.
Sol Shuman of Lake Suzy, east of Port Charlotte, Fla., was a platoon sergeant in the Indian Head Division, 2nd Infantry Division that went to Inchon, North Korea with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his troops, in January 1951. Mac Arthur was headed for China.
Nick Melone of Port Charlotte, Fla. sat in a big gray cushy chair, a tether running from his nose to a nearby oxygen bottle. He reached for a folded flag stuffed in the top of a blue plastic storage tub of World War II memorabilia. The 89-year-old Marine sergeant shook the folds out of the…
Pat Farino of Port Charlotte, Fla. went to Vietnam in 1968 with the 101st Airborne Division. He was a 22-year-old airborne trooper who served with the ‘Screaming Eagles’.
Drennon Judy was a quartermaster who served aboard the Battleship USS Pennsylvania. He saw action during many of the major battles in the Pacific during World War II.
For the past year, in addition to writing war stories about local veterans, I’ve provided DVD interviews of these same veterans to the Library of Congress’ “Veterans History Project.” This week I reached a milestone in these interviews. A couple of days ago I sent 25 DVDs and supporting material on each disk to the…
John Zajdlik had a reason to dislike the Communists. He and his family escaped Communist rule when they took control of his Czechoslovakian homeland shortly after the end of World War II.
In September 1968, on his second tour of duty in Vietnam, Spc.-5 Bob Rogers’ squad walked into a Viet Cong ambush near Chu Lai in the Que Son Valley and was almost captured by the enemy.
Jack Miller loved his P-51D Mustang fighter. Twice he was shot down when he was a 20-year-old 2nd lieutenant serving as a member of the 354th Pioneer Mustang Group, 9th Air Force stationed in France during World War II.
POW Camp 101 is what it was called. The camp was a hell hole located 20 miles outside Hanoi, North Vietnam. It’s where 100 American MIAs languished during the Vietnam War and nobody in the United States knew they were there.
It made no difference that 23-year-old 2nd Lt. Stephen Leopold was a Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University who served as a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces in Vietnam. Three weeks after arriving in country he was captured by the North Vietnam Army near Ben Het, in the jungles of Two Corps,…
Mark Vanderveer only fought in one major battle during World War II, but it was a doosie. He served as a PFC in E-Company, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division of the 1st Army during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest fought along the Belgium-German border.
The cheap, cerise-colored, aluminum bracelet on her right arm was battered and worn. Every day for the past 25 years, Vera Creed of Port Charlotte, Fla. has had it on.
Harold Glover of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. was a sergeant in the “Fighting 36th Infantry Division” that first saw battle in North Africa in World War II, went on to Italy and before the war was over made the invasion of Southern France and marched into Germany. He received three Purple Hearts while fighting at Salerno, Anzio, Monte Casino and finally crossed the Rhine River into Germany at war’s end.
Billie Hopkins, who winters at Little Charlie Creek mobile home park in Wauchula, was only 5-feet, 3-inches tall and weighed 112 pounds. His size made him a perfect candidate to be a ball turret gunner on a B-17 or B-24 bomber in World War II. But the Air Corps didn’t want him because he was…
Bill Schwartz was a “River Rat.” He was a brown water sailor who skippered a PBR patrol boat in the Mekong Delta area of South Vietnam in 1968 during the Vietnam War.
Ed Bremen was a Marine sharpshooter in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, 4th Marine Division. He became a Browning Automatic Weapon man who saw action in the Pacific on Roi and Namur islands near Kwajalein Atoll in February 1944 and Saipan in the Mariana Island chain in June, 1944. He was wounded there and spent the next 16 months recuperating in a trio of hospitals throughout the country.
Disaster struck on Friday, October 13, 1944 for 2nd Lt. Victor Barber a 21-year-old bombardier aboard a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber flying from a base in Foggia, Italy. He was a member of the 251st Bomb Group, 724th Squadron, 15th Air Force.
Ed Kent was the gunner on an M-7, self-propelled 105 millimeter Howitzer, who landed June 6, 1944 at Utah Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France during World War II. The 20-year-old corporal survived 15 days before being seriously injured by shrapnel from incoming enemy fire, was sent back to England and eventually the States to recuperate.
“Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division was a black flag outfit. We were a skull and crossbones unit comprised of assault hunter-killer teams. We took no prisoners,” Charles Shaughnessy, who saw considerable action in 1968 in Vietnam as a 20-year-old Marine corporal and squad leader, said.
When Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Diamond Trifilo went over the side of the USS Eversole, a destroyer escort, after she was struck by two Japanese torpedoes during the Battle of Leyte in World War II he was wearing nothing but his boatswain’s whistle on a chain around his neck.
Lance Cpl Brian Rory Buesing, killed in an ambush in the Iraqi desert, was buried in a north Florida fishing village as his Marine unit marched on downtown Baghdad half a world away.
More than 50 years after the rifles fell silent and the cannon fire ceased in the hills north of the 38th Parallel dividing North and South Korea, no one who was there seems to know why both sides put so much stock in controlling Pork Chop Hill during the closing months of the Korean War.
John Rambo has nothing on Mark Bills. The Venice, Fla. dentist was once a member of an elite, secret Army Special Forces group dropped behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War.
To everyone else, Sgt. William Harrell was a war hero. He was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, “…for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” at Iwo Jima during World War II. To Gary Harrell he was just dad.
Joe Quick is one of “The Chosin Few”. He’s one of the members of the 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division that led the way up and back from the Chosin Reservoir during the early months of the Korean War. For nearly eight long weeks, Quick and 20,000 other U.S. Marines braved overwhelming enemy odds in…
Before he dropped the world’s first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima in a B-29 Super Fortress named for his mother, “Enola Gay,” Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets flew a B-17 Flying Fortress over Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
The god of war smiled on United States forces at Midway. “In 30 hours, at the Battle of Midway, the fate of World War II was changed in the Pacific,” according to commentary from newsreel footage taken at the time.
The red, white and black Nazi flag was in as good condition, swastika and all, as the day Mike Clemente pulled it off a flag pole that stood in a tiny public square in Remagen, Germany almost 60 years ago.
Sgt. Mike Sovan, a Sherman tank commander, and his men had just crossed the Nied River in France during World War II as part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army when their third tank was shot out from under them.
Charles Sass is a former platoon sergeant with the 511th Paratrooper Regiment. He made three combat jumps on Luzon Island in the Philippines during World War II.
Their target was a railroad marshaling yard along the German-Belgium border. Second Lt. Robert Grace was making his initial pass over the target at Prum, Germany in a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane on May 29, 1944 when he was shot down.
Harold Sandler didn’t start out to be a “Ninety-day Wonder” or a war hero, but that’s what he became by the time World War II was over.