Susan Petersen of Grand Palm subdivision in Venice graduated from St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio in 1967 with an RN degree. The Vietnam war was heating up.
From U. S. Army
1st. Lt Roger Petersen received 2 Purple Hearts and 2 Silver Stars fighting in Jungles of Vietnam in ’68
Roger Petersen who lives in Grand Palm subdivision in Venice, Fla. received two Silver Stars for service within 24 hours of each other while fighting in the jungle of Vietnam along the Cambodian border.
Jim Hunter of Englewood was scout dog handler with 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam
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.
1st Lt. Howard Catley of Venice spent two years in Vietnam with 101st Airborne 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.’
“Rocky’ Burns of North Port was an emergency room medic in Vietnam in 1969
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 served on Korean War armistice commission
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.
Luck played big part in Bill Ring’s two-year Army career in the early 1950s
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 at 101 still recalls his service in 16th Armored Division in WW II
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…
‘Rap’ Peavy of Venice Acres spent nearly 19-months in Vietnam War running a radio station in Laos
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…
Veteran served in Iraq, Afghanistan
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.
Former Sgt. Richard Uhlich ran APC in Vietnam with 9th Infantry division
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.
Sgt. Doug Nichols of Englewood spent only 4 months in Vietnam because his mother was dying
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…
WO-2 Robert Rodenhouse flew with the ‘Cat Killers’ in Vietnam in ’71-72
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…
Warren Tuggle of Punta Gorda and family run out of Miss. by KKK in ’47
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.
101st Airborne trooper returns to Vietnam after 50 years
Returning to Vietnam was no sentimental journey for Bob Ruybal after 50 years.
Ed Garrick of Port Charlotte one of 5 survivors of ‘Battle of Pork Chop Hill’ in Korea
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.
W-4 Randy Laney of Englewood flew 9,000 hours in many Vietnam-era ‘choppers
Randy Laney of Englewood flew helicopters for 45 years both in the Army and as a commercial chopper pilot after he was discharged.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Medic at war – He treated No Gun Ri massacre wounded
Robin Matthews was an Army medic aboard a hospital train dispatched to treat the wounded from the massacre at No Gun Ri during the early stages of the Korean War more than half a century ago.
Roland Hardt stormed Utah Beach twice in WW II
Roland Hardt is one American soldier who made the D-Day invasion twice. He also received a bear hug from Gen. George Patton for being “one hell-of-a-good soldier.”
Clerk became machine-gunner on D-Day plus 2
Pvt. Al Gaus was supposed to be an office worker in the 90th Infantry Division that landed on Utah Beach along the Normandy coast on D-Day plus two, June 8, 1944, with thousands of other soldiers.
Port Charlotte. Fla. man fought in Philippine Invasion during WWII
The one-page “Unit Citation” summed up Pfc. Bill Muldoon ‘s service in World War II. The 91-year-old Maple Leaf Estates resident served in the 19th Infantry Regiment during the Leyte Invasion in World War II.
Pfc. Dominic Socci of North Port served as 155 Howitzer crew member in Vietnam in 1969
Even though Pfc. Dominic Socci of North Port, Fla. saw little of the enemy because he was part of a 155 mm Howitzer crew that sat back from the front lines five miles or more, there were times when the war and its aftermath caught up to him and drove home the horrors of battle.
Sgt. Mike Hirsh says Vietnam was ‘useless war’
Former Sgt. Michael Hirsh of the Seminole Lakes subdivision, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was in the first public information detachment of Army reporters since World War II who went to Vietnam.
Col. Bob Carroll received ‘Silver Star’ fighting with 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam War
Col. Bob Carroll never mentioned he was awarded a “Silver Star” in Vietnam “For Gallantry in Action.” The Manasota Key, Fla. resident also has an 8 X 10, black and white, framed photograph of President Lyndon Johnson pinning the medal on him at Fort Benning, Ga. The commendation accompanying the medal says it all.
He made 4 combat jumps with 82nd Airborne – Sgt. Miale jumped in Sicily, Italy, France & Holland
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.
Don Miller of North Port became scared ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam during the war
Don Miller was a Vietnam “Tunnel Rat.” It had to be the worst job an American soldier could have in the Southeast Asian war.
Pfc. Gordon Gade helped operate Nike missile site in Germany during Cold War
Gordon Gade of the Seminole Lakes subdivision, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. joined the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1958 with a degree in business administration. He served in Germany during the Cold War as a guided missile soldier.
Ed Lyman served as Acting General Secretary of Nuremberg War Crimes Commission
Ed Lyman who lives in the Jacaranda Trace Retirement Community in south Venice, Fla. wore a dark blue uniform much like the kind worn by Naval officers during World War II. He even had an anchor patch on one sleeve, however he had captain’s bars on his shoulders. Lyman spent the Second World War explaining…
Pfc. Elmer Meyers captured by Germans at Battle of the Bulge
Two dog tags — one worn by an American soldier, the other by a German soldier — were found in a Luxembourg woods near the German border more than half a century after hostilities ended. The men who wore them crossed paths during the closing months of World War II.
Sgt. Randy McConnell received 7 Purple Hearts, more than any other living soldier
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…
Soldier fought Germans in Appian Mountains during World War II
On Oct.22, 1942 Tony Di Gregorio of Rotonda, Fla. was drafted into the Army. He was 21. The South Philly soldier took his basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It took until the summer of 1944 to board a troop transport and sail in convoy for Scotland.
This picture was American soldier’s clue in WW II
Pete Marlo of Holiday Estates in Englewood, Fla. served in the 62nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion from Totten, Long Island, N.Y. His unit was attached to Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army during part of World War II. They fought Field Marshal Irwin Rommel during the disaster at the Kasserine Pass shortly after the Invasion of North…
Col. Dominic Ruggerio was U.S. Army Cavalry officer from head to toe
After graduating with a double major in English and Psychology from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. in 1961, Dominic Ruggerio joined the Army as a 2nd lieutenant. He went to basic at Fort Knox, Ky. the following year.
Two old soldiers find each other – They were in the Army in Korea 43 years ago
It was like old times when Sal Russotto of Port Charlotte, Fla. and Charles Wilson of Tampa, Fla. two Korean era vets, met for the first time in 43 years, at Russotto’s home.
Sgt. Clarence Tuma fought at ‘The Bulge’ & near ‘Malmedy Massacre’
Shortly after graduating from high school in 1943, Clarence Tuma was drafted into the Army, went to basic at Fort Stuart, Ga. and traveled by ship to Europe as a member of the 789th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion.
Old soldier stories from WW II never die
The last time Glenn Fackler saw Walter Anstey, his company commander, it was aboard a hospital ship on their way back to the States at the close of World War II. They were both recovering from war wounds.
Bobbie Caho called ‘Gremlin’ by his buddies in the 106th Artillery Battalion in WW II
At 5-ft, 3-inches tall, Bobbie Caho was the shortest soldier in 106th Artillery Battalion attached to the 27th Infantry Division at the battles of Saipan and Okinawa in the Pacific during World War II. His foxhole buddies called him “Gremlin.”
He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus one
Pfc. Al Meersman was behind quad-fifty caliber machine guns mounted on a halftrack when it rolled out of an LST onto Omaha Beach on D-Day plus one, June 7, 1944. Eleven months later he and his four buddies were on their halftrack when they met the Russians, who were advancing westward fighting the last of…
Pfc. Walter Tatko gets Distinguished Service Cross for destroying 2 German halftracks
It was while Walter Tatko of Venice, Fla. was serving in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in France during World War II he and a buddy, Pfc. Frank Zalewski, knocked out a couple of German halftracks loaded with enemy troops.
Pfc. Cliff Birdsall becomes Führer’s ‘guest’ during ‘Battle of Bulge’ in WW II
During his freshman year at the University of Ohio in 1943 Cliff Birdsall of Punta Gorda Fla. was drafted into the U.S. Army in the middle of World War II. A few months later he found himself fighting in Europe as a 57 millimeter gunner in the 106th Infantry Division, part of Gen. Omar Bradley’s…
Spc. 4 Donald Hirkey saw action with ‘Screaming Eagles’ during Vietnam War
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.
Cpl. George Eyster served in 254th Engineering Bn. all through Europe in Second World War
George Eyster started off driving a 2 1/2 ton army truck in the 254th Engineering Battalion attached to Gen. Omar Bradley’s 1st Army when it came ashore on Omaha Beach June 6, 1944. He saw the war from the vantage-point of a deuce-and-a-half starting with the invasion beach to the Battle of the Bulge, on…
David Eshelman was command sergeant major in 82nd and 101st Airborne
Most of David Eshelman’s 29 years in the service were spent as an airborne trooper. In 1979 he retired a command sergeant major, the highest rank an enlisted man in the U.S Army can achieve.
World War II hero’s burial
A caisson flanked by an honor guard and drawn by six matching brown horses held Harold Sandler’s remains in a steel-gray casket draped with an American flag. The eight soldiers in impeccable Army dress were commanded by an equally resplendent captain. All waited in statue-like silence last Tuesday on a road in Arlington National Cemetery,…
Bud Gerow served with ‘Merrill’s Marauders’ in Burma during WW II
“Merrill’s Marauders” is what newspaper reporters who covered their exploits a lifetime ago during World War II called them. Officially they were the “5307th Composite Unit Provisional,” a long-range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit that fought the Japanese in the jungles of Burma.
Sgt. Derek Nelson served 3 1/2 years in Vietnam from 68-71
Derek Nelson of North Port, Fla. served 3 1/2 years in Vietnam. He first went there in 1967 as an 18-year-old member of the 9th Infantry Division located in the Macon Delta. During his second tour in 1969 he served with the 1st Logistics Command in Saigon. His last 18 months over there he was…
Cpl. George Walther was part of Eli Wallach’s play: ‘Is This The Army?’ during WW II
Cpl. George Walther of Englewood worked as part of Lt. Eli Wallach’s crew helping produce “Is This The Army?” during World War II in Europe. The yet-to-be-famous Hollywood actor appeared in the play poking fun at the leaders of the Axis enemy powers.
Spc. 4 Dutch Dutcher of Polynesian Gardens was a 9th Division cook in Vietnam
Dutch Dutcher was a 17-year-old wise-guy from Brockton, Mass. when he signed up for the Army with a friend in 1967.
Mom fought on front lines in Iraq War – Cpl. Gwen Sieg spearheaded the 3rd Infantry Division’s drive
Cpl. Gwen Sieg returned home afer six months on the front lines in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division after fighting her way through the desert and into Baghdad. Proudly waiting her homecoming were her 6-year-old daughter, her mother and three younger brothers and sisters.
Pfc. Keith Jones fought in ‘Battle of Bulge’ as 3rd Army’s advance across Europe
Keith Jones was too skinny to get in the Navy in 1942, but the Army took him anyway despite his lack of weight. He became a member of the 87th Infantry Division, part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during the Second World War.
Cpl. Don Schmitt served in 47th Combat Engineers on Okinawa during WW II
Don Schmitt of Maple Leaf Estates, Port Charlotte, Fla. was trained as a combat engineer and sent to Okinawa during the final days of World War II. He was a corporal who served with the Army’s 47th Combat Engineers in the Pacific at the close of the war.
Arcadia soldier served in top-secret communications unit in Vietnam
Lee St. John was a bit of a contradiction in Vietnam. He was a Baptist kid from Arcadia, Fla. who ran a liquor warehouse in ‘Nam. He was a small arms specialist who never fired a shot until he wound up in a Southeast Asian war. He was a “spook,” or spy, a member of…
Pfc. Joe Falis served with the 718th Signal Air Warning Company in WWII
Joe Falis tried to sign up for the service the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Trouble was, he was only 17 and he had to have his parents’ permission.
Steve Logsdon fought North Koreans at ‘Pusan Perimeter’ during Korean War
Steve Logsdon of Rotonda, Fla. joined the Army at 17, shortly after graduating from high school, just in time for the start of the Korean War. He went from basic training to the front line holding back advancing waves of North Korean infantry during the monumental battle of the Pusan Perimeter in the summer and…
40 Months at the Front
The inscription on the front of the white ball cap siting on the coffee tale says it all: “America’s most Decorated 34th Infantry Division.” Below the inscription was an irregular shaped patch showing the head of a bull in red on a solid black background the 34th Division’s insignia.
Sgt. James Lunn had finger on Hawk Missile’s fire button during ‘Cold War’
For much of his five years in the Army James Lunn was within arms length of the firing button for ground to air guided missile. He was an Army’s fire control specialist for land-based “Hawk Missiles” in the U.S., South Korea and Germany.
William McWha fought in five European Campaigns, was wounded in two
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.
Sgt. Glenn Magner fought at Metz & ‘Battle of Bulge’ during WW II
In 1942 when Glenn Magner of Tangerine Woods mobile home park in Englewood, Fla. enlisted in the Army he was 16-years-old. He told them he was 20 and got away with it.
Capt. Johnson: the Piper Cub beat the Germans – As a military plane it had no equal, he says
The Piper Cub, used as an artillery spotter plane, did more to defeat the German Army in World War II then any other American airplane, according to Capt. John Johnson.
John Ardolino faced the Cuban Missile Crisis
John Ardolino of Burnt Store Marina, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. served a couple of years as a member of Company B, 25th Signal Battalion in Germany during the early 1960s. He and his buddies strung telephone lines from the command center to the front lines if war broke out.
‘Radio Bamiyan’ brings 21st Century to rural Afghanistan – Sgt. Joe Smith kept station on air
“Radio Bamiyan” is what it’s unofficially called. The tiny, 400-watt station established six months ago by Staff Sgt. Joe Smith, chief of the U.S. Army Psychological Operations group stationed there, is helping change the hearts and minds of the 50,000 inhabitants of the Bamiyan Valley in the central highlands of Afghanistan.
Fred Stuenkel knew their Chinook chopper was in trouble with a dozen bullet holes punched in it
Fred Stuenkel graduated from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Fla. in 1965. He continued his education at Manatee Junior College in Bradenton, a few miles north up Florida’s west coast, until his funds ran out. It was 1969, the year he received notice from the draft board, he had been selected to join the…
2nd Lt. U.S. Cleveland involved in WW II’s biggest hoax
2nd Lt. U.S. Cleveland was a key part of the most elaborate hoax ever attempted by Allied forces during World War II. This picture of him was taken in Fort Knox, Ky. in 1941. Photo provided
Medic Geoffrey Morris, awarded ‘Silver Star’ for saving lives in Vietnam
Geoffrey Morris of Venice. Fla. was a conscientious objector who volunteered to become a medic with the 237th Medical Detachment. He flew out of Quang Tri, Vietnam in 1970-71 aboard a DMZ Dust Off helicopter rescuing wounded soldiers and taking them to the 18th Surgical Hospital for emergency treatment.
Former Spc.-4 Don Rudness lasted 2 months in Vietnam before being wounded
After flunking out of Northern Michigan University in his sophomore year in 1968 Don Rudness of North Port, Fla. was classified 1-A by the draft board and sent to Vietnam by his friends and neighbors.
Col. Norm Mac Lellan received ‘Silver Star’ for service in Vietnam
Col. Norm Mac Lellan of Venice had already served one tour in Vietnam and survived the 1968 Tet Offensive when he got in the firefight of his life with North Vietnamese Army troops during his second tour of duty along Highway 1, north of Saigon in the summer on 1972.
Warrant Officer Jim Stivers flew Hueys, Sky Cranes and Chinooks for 33 years
Warrant Officer 5th Class Jim Stivers of North Port flew Army Hueys, Sky Crane and Chinook helicopters starting in Vietnam and for the next three decades. He eventually became an instructor pilot who checked out helicopters pilots around the world.
Pfc. Ron Heurlin shot 3 times in Vietnam serving with Big Red 1
In January 1966 Pfc. Ron Heurlin of Punta Gorda, Fla. flew into Tan Son Nhat Airbase in Saigon, Vietnam. He was a member of Company B, 28th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division known as “The Black Lions.”
He fought the Japanese in the Aleutians – Master Sgt. Frank Keegan was in the thick of the Battle for Attu
Almost a year after four Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft carriers were sunk at the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, the Japanese troops that went ashore at the same time on Attu Island in the Aleutians suffered a similar fate.
He served in WW II, Korea and Vietnam – Col. Paul Vnencak fought at Iwo Jima and Chosin
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.
‘Screaming Eagle’ wounded during Battle of the Bulge
More than half a century after he was shot in the back and hand in two major World War II engagements, the 77-year-old Punta Gorda, Fla. retiree still has trouble talking about what he went through. “It was hell,” he said.
Bill Gomes a science and math teacher at Charlotte High says the Army made him what he is today
Until he was 18 and graduated from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Fla. in 1974 Bill Gomes spent most of his time in the saddle punching cows on ranches in Charlotte and De Soto counties. He was a “Florida Cracker,” better known as a cowboy. He wasn’t much interested in his education.
Former Sgt. Jiggs Yeager remembers Gen. Patton at ‘Battle of the Bulge’
Jiggs Yeager was a sergeant in the 39th Signal Battalion attached to the 26th Yankee Division, part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II.
Englewood man served on the ‘most boring’ Air Force base in the world
Pfc. Dave Lea of Englewood, Fla. spent much of his time in the service in the most boring place on the planet — Thule, Greenland.
Dec. 7, 1942 was bad day for Sgt. James Broner – His brother was killed, he lost his leg same day
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…
He’s part of West Point’s Long Gray Line – Charlotte native is a junior at the U.S. Military Academy
Sgt. Bryan Coward is in an elite group. He’s part of a handful of local students attending one of the United States’ military academies. Coward is midway through his junior year at West Point. He is a 2003 graduate of Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Fla. His parents, Tony and Sandee Coward , live…
Sgt. Dusek fought in Korea’s Chorwon Valley; got Silver Star in Vietnam
It was the middle of the Korean War, August 1952, when Charles Dusek enlisted the U.S. Army. He was 19-years-old at the time living with his family in Chicago.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man fought his way through France during WW II
The old man sitting on his purple electric scooter in his son’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home was once a sniper in the 10th Armored “Tiger” Division when it landed in France shortly after D-Day during World War II.
Brian Nethery returns to Big Red One in Iraq War
Spc. 4 Brian Nethery is headed back to Iraq after 15 days’ rest and relaxation following eight months in the thick of it with the “Big Red One,” the 1st Infantry Division, stationed at Balad, approximately 50 miles north of Baghdad.
Tom Poole was a CIA commander in Laos during the ‘Secret War’ – He fought at Long Tieng during the ‘Easter Offensive’
Tom Poole was a Green Beret, a member of the Special Forces, in Vietnam in 1964. Later he became a Central Intelligence operative in Laos commanding mercenaries along the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the “Secret War” in 1970.
Col. Jim Fraser of Port Charlotte, Fla. graduated near top of his ’47 West Point class
Jim Fraser already had two years of college behind him at the Missouri School of Mines when he got a chance to take a competitive exam in 1944, along with 360 other potential candidates, for the United States Military Academy at West Point.
He fought with Gen. Patton in France – Cpl. Richard Erdley wounded while fighting with 35th Division
Pvt. Richard Erdley was a member of the 35th Infantry Division, part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, in World War II. He was wounded at the battle for Nancy, France shortly after the general’s 3rd Army began to push the Germans into Germany during the final assault of the Second World War.
Sgt. Spearin injured in 3rd Army’s capture of Baghdad
Sgt. Richard Spearin is every bit the Multiple Launch Rocket System gunner as he stares out of a picture on a photo wall at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood, Fla. of former students now serving in the military around the world\
Col Carl Hansen of Punta Gorda Isles made Gen. Omar Bradley some teeth
Before completing 21 years of service in the U.S. Army’s Dental Corps, Col. Carl Hansen of Punta Gorda, Fla. made five-star Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of the 12th Army Group in Europe during World War II who also served as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after the war, a set of…
He fought at Saipan and Okinawa – Pvt. Marty Mestre was in the 27th Division
Marty Mestre of Port Charlotte, Fla. came to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was 20 years old in 1936. It was the depth of the Depression, so he lived with Frances, his older sister, in New York City and worked in a factory for 35 cents an hour.
He captured World War II on film – Sgt. Eddy Edwards was a member of an Air Force search light unit
The tiny black and white picture was only 1 1/4-by-2-inches and yellowed with age. The images of a group of World War II soldiers standing around a pile of burnt rubble staring at human remains were sharp but small.
They faced the 6th Panzer Army at St. Vith – Ed Deluka and his company didn’t stand a chance
His unit dug in outside St. Vith, Belgium, in the snow and waited that cold December afternoon in 1944. They were lost, outgunned and about to become cannon fodder in the largest German offensive on the Western Front during World War II — the Battle of the Bulge.
Lt. Rich Entlich fought in Vietnam in black pajamas and flip-flops
After graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1963, Lt. Rich Entlich found himself in Vietnam working for MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam) after completing Airborne and Ranger Schools.
14th Armored Division liberated a number of German POW camps during WWII
The 14th Armored Division arrived in Marseille, France, on Oct. 29, 1944, and went into battle two weeks later at Maritime Alps along the French-Italian border under Maj. Gen. Vernon Pritchard as part of the 7th Army. Sgt. Paul Cearlock, who now lives in the Foxwood condominiums, Englewood, Fla., was the commander of a Sherman…
Pfc. Tony Mercurio goes to Korean War toothless and battles VA for next 60 years
Tony Mercurio of Punta Gorda, Fla., who served in the 24th Infantry Division as a gun-toting, front line rifleman near the end of the Korean War, spent the remainder of his life fighting the Veterans Administration over his teeth or the lack of ’em.
Revell fought the war with his typewriter
Former Master Sgt. J.R. Revell of Englewood, Fla. went to war with his typewriter. Although he was in some of the toughest battles in the Italian Campaign during World War II, he never fired his rifle or used his gas mask.
Former Sgt. Herb Mc Cool escaped without a scratch during 3 tours in Vietnam
Herb Mc Cool of Port Charlotte, Fla. figures he was shot at by North Vietnamese Army regulars and Vietcong guerrillas at least 5,000 times during his three tours in Vietnam. He served in the 67th Maintenance Company from 1967 to ’69 at “Camp Eagle” near the convergence of the Ho Chi Min Trail and the…
Port Charlotte, Fla. man survived Rommel at Battle of Kasserine Pass
Staff Sgt. Paul Grube’s puny M3 Lee tank, with its 37-millimeter gun, was no match for German Gen. Erwin Rommel’s Panzer IVs and Tiger tanks with their 88-millimeter main guns.
He was at first hydrogen bomb blast in ’54 – Camillo Balsamo was an AEC technician
It was called “Operation Castle.” Camillo Balsamo was a civilian technician working for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in September 1954. “Operation Castle” was the detonation of the world’s first hydrogen bomb at Enewetak Island, part of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.
Ernie Pyle most beloved reporter in WWII – He was killed by a sniper on Ie Shima Island
I was interviewing Giff Stowell of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. about his service in a B-24 “Liberator” bomber in the Pacific during World War II. He had a handful of old war snapshots sitting on his dining room table.
Seaman Felix De Rosa served in WW II aboard many ships that crossed the Atlantic
Able-bodied Seaman Felix De Rosa from Orange, N.J. spent most of his time in World War II in U.S. Army’s Floating Transportation. He sailed from ports along the east coast of the U.S. to ports in England. From the continent bringing supplies and soldiers to fight the war and returning wounded servicemen to the U.S.…
The ‘music man’ goes to war – Les Barth was gunner in tank destroyer
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…
1st Lt. Charley Maloney barely survived Battle of the Bulge in WW II
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.
Eddie Hrycaj served as Army corpsman on Guadalcanal during WW II
About the time Corpsman Eddie Hrycaj landed on Guadalcanal in 1943 with the 101st Medical Regiment that took charge of the 52nd Field Hospital attached to the Army’s Americal Division the tide of war was starting to turn against the emperor’s troops.
Sgt. Ron York served with the 34th Combat Engineers in Vietnam in ’69-’70
Halfway through his senior year in high school Ron York, who grew up in Griffith, Ind., decided he had had enough education and joined the Army. In June 1969 he arrived in Vietnam, a member of the 34th Combat Engineers.
Young Dutchman puts flowers on American soldier’s grave for almost a decade
Since he was 13, almost a decade ago, Robin Gulikers of the Netherlands has placed flowers on the grave of Pfc. Robert Ramsdell buried in the American Military Cemetery at Margraten, Netherlands. It’s become a monthly ritual for the teenager, part of the Dutch “Fallen Not Forgotten” program honoring American servicemen killed in action whiled…
Soldier led 10th Armored Division tanks into Nazi Germany
George Sutherland of Port Charlotte, Fla. was in the vanguard of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army atop his light tank fighting his way into Germany during the closing months of World War II.
Marvin Aronow was wounded serving as a mortar-man in Korean War
The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 1951, Marvin Aronow from Bronx, N.Y. was drafted. He wound up in Korea as a member of I-Company, 31st Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. “It wasn’t my idea to get drafted. When I got put in the Army I told them, ‘My teeth were bad.’ They said, ‘Here’s a rifle.…
Sgt. Clyde Housel of Port Charlotte, Fla. was sniper at ‘Battle of Bulge’ in WW II
Former Sgt. Clyde Housel of Port Charlotte, Fla. found himself in the snow and cold huddled in a foxhole along the Siegfried Line searching for Germans to shoot with his 1903 Springfield sniper rifle and scope on Dec. 16, 1944. He was a 1st Army sniper.
Everett Charles ‘had no peers’ as skipper of PBR gun boat in Vietnam
Everett Charles of Vizcaya Lakes mobile home park in El Jobean skippered a PBR (Patrol Boat River) that prowled the Upper Saigon River hunting for North Vietnam Army regulars and Vietcong irregulars moving enemy supplies into South Vietnam. He made 216 combat patrols as captain, plus an additional 89 patrols into enemy territory as an…
Sgt. Sandy Branzei talked away his war nightmares 5 years after his outfit was over run in Korean War
A month before the armistice was signed in July 1953, putting the Korean War on hold, Sgt. Sandy Branzei was in a bunker with his .30 caliber machine-gun atop “Boomerang Hill” when his unit, King Company, 7th Regiment, 3rd Division, was attacked and overrun by waves of Chinese soldiers.
Pfc. Louis Basso of Venice, Fla. survived Battle of Hürtgen Forest in World War II
Louis Basso of Venice, Fla. was a 155 mm gunner who served in Battery A, 258th Field Artillery Battalion attached to Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army that fought the Germans across France and into the “Fatherland” during World War II.
Atomic War Vet, last of a dying breed – Andy Hawkinson served on Eniwetok in the ’50s
Andy Hawkinson is the last of a dying breed. He is one of the last of an estimated 400,000 American soldiers who took part in atomic bomb testing during World War II and throughout the Cold War up to 1992.
George Phillips survived from ‘The Battle of the Bulge’ to the end of WWII
George Phillips of North Port, Fla. was an 18-year-old soldier serving in Company G, 347th Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II.
Pfc. Bob Balch, a cannonier on a 105 Howitzer, almost killed by his own fire
It was Pfc. Bob Balch’s job to retrieve the spent brass shells as they ejected from the breach of a 105 millimeter Howitzer. He was a cannonier, a hot shell man, and a member of a six-man crew that serviced a cannon in the 85th Infantry Division, part of Gen. Mark Clark’s 5th Army fighting…
2nd Lt. Bryan Coward becomes West Point officer and gentleman
Second Lt. Bryan Coward officially became an officer and a gentleman May 26, 2007 upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, together with 977 classmates — members all of the “Long Gray Line.”
‘At 2:01 a.m., May 12, 1969 all hell broke lose at Landing Zone Jamie:’ Mick Johnson
Mick Johnson of Bird Bay subdivision in Venice, Fla. was “sluffing off” on a football scholarship at Philadelphia’s Villanova University in 1968. At the end of the school year he was drafted as a minor league pitcher by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I played a half season with the Dodgers. In September ’68 I lost…
John Schoell made two combat jumps in Korea with the 187th Airborne
John Schoell of Port Charlotte, Fla. took part in the first combat jump involving American paratroopers since World War II. He was as a member of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, and jumped on Oct. 20, 1950, near Sunchon, North Korea — just over the 38th Parallel dividing the North from the South.
Don Smally calibrated cannons during WWII to make them more accurate
Don Smally was a sergeant in the 283rd Ordinance and Ballistic Technical Service Detachment, fighting in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II.
SOLDIER RETURNS HOME
Arturo Rodriguez-Martin recently returned from a three-month tour as a U.S. Army Reserve doctor.
Old soldier had great career – John Franklin Gay was command sergeant major, fought in 3 wars
When Melitta Gay of Venice called me a while back and said she was going through all her late husband’s stuff from a 31-year military career that spanned World War II, Korea and Vietnam and wanted me to come check it out for possible inclusion in the Sun, I was perplexed. He had already gone…
American POW talked 40 German soldiers into surrendering to him – Lt. William Standish’s fast-talking did the trick
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.
Making Marlene Dietrich’s wish come true
It was a cold, rainy, muddy night in November 1944, Sgt. Ted Sannella was on duty at 1st Army’s Headquarters near Aachen, Germany as Allied forces began their final push into the “Fatherland” near the close of World War II.
Up close to the enemy – Pfc. Maurice Forgotson was forward observer in WW II
Maurice Forgotson, of Gulf View mobile home park on Burnt Store Road, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a forward observer with a mortar platoon. It was part of the 84th Infantry Division, attached to Gen. Bernard Montgomery’s army in Europe during World War II.
Pvt. Michael Meehan got Silver Star for taking Korean hill
Michael Meehan of Englewood, Fla. received a Silver Star, the third highest commendation awarded an American soldier for gallantry under enemy fire, when his unit, the 17th Regiment of the 7th Division, was trying to capture a hill held by North Koreans.
He drove his truck through Omaha Beach mine field – Pvt. Bill Price was there on D-Day
Bill Price, who lives in Oxford House, Port Charlotte, was driving a 2 1/2-ton Army truck onto the beach at Normandy, France, D-Day, 60 years ago in June.
Sgt. Andy Pace fought in Battle of Bulge during big German push on Western Front in WW II
Andy Pace of Port Charlotte, Fla. served as a member of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in World War II. He was a battalion radio operator for Headquarters Company, 58th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division.
Nightmare at Nui Ba Den – Combat photographer shot at Black Virgin Mountain
Staff Sgt. Raymond Jewett was a combat photographer in July 1964 attached to the U.S. military Assistance Command in Vietnam.