After graduating from Charlotte High School, Florida, in 1981, Walter Whisenant went into the Marine Corps. He took basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He transferred to Twenty-nine Palms, California, for communications school. After that he was sent to Camp Jejune, North Carolina. Finally he deployed to Beirut, Lebanon.
Lance Corporal Lou Piazza of Venice served with Delta Company, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in Vietnam in1968. He signed up right out of high school and was sent to Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego, Calif.
Ray Kelley of Port Charlotte was the leader of a four-man machine-gun squad in Vietnam. During his tour in 1966 and ’67 he was involved in 24 operations including one firefight where he received the “Silver Star” and “Purple Heart.”
Tom Upright, who lives with his wife Sue, in Grand Palm, Venice, FL, is a U.S. Marine—first, last, and always.
After graduating from the University of New Mexico retired Col. Victor Simpson, who now lives in Punta Gorda Isles subdivision, went into the Marine Corps in 1969. He followed in the footsteps of his father who served in the Corps during World War II and the Korean War that followed. He got in just in…
Robert Jones of Florida Pines Mobile Home Court in Venice recalls the war years like they were yesterday. He saw action in the Pacific during World War II in New Guinea, Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Peleliu Island, Okinawa, and the Ryukyu Islands.
David Good of Port Charlotte joined the Marine Aviation Cadet Program a year out of high school in 1961. He went to basic training at the San Diego Recruit Depot and took advanced infantry training at Camp Pendleton, S.C.
Charles Hall of Sarasota was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in 1967 during the war in Vietnam. He flew for Marine Helicopter Squadron 163 out of Phu Bai.
After graduating from Southern Illinois University in 1964 Byron Hill of Island Walk Subdivision, Venice, found his name at the top of the list to be drafted and sent to fight the war in Vietnam.
Bob Hayes of Port Charlotte was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division when he got to Vietnam in 1966. As an 18-year-old gun-toter it didn’t take long for him to receive his first Purple Heart for combat wounds.
In 1956 Eugene Maulding was the youngest sergeant in Company-B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He was 18 at the time.
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.…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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,…
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.
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.
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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 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.
It wasn’t long after Navy Medical Corpsman Steven Bizeur of North Port, Fla. came ashore on Kwajalein with the 4th Marine Division he became a casualty himself during the war in the Pacific.
Former Marine Sgt. Jim Foster of Blue Heron Pines mobile home park south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a member of George Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11 Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He marched to the Chosin Reservoir and back in the opening months of the Korean War.
There weren’t suppose to be any enemy surface-to-air missiles in South Vietnam, but they were there. Maj. Tom D’Andrea, executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, got an up close and personal look at the telephone pole-size missiles one day in 1967 while flying his A-4 Skyhawk fighter-bomber on a mission.
During most of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, Marine Pfc. Silas Jessup was a stretcher bearer. He received a commendation from the commanding general of his division for carrying more than 100 dead and wounded U.S. Marines and a Japanese Imperial Marine off the most costly battlefield foot-for-foot in the Corps 231-year…
Vic Ciullo of Venice, Fla. was an amtrac driver in Vietnam with A-Company, 3rd Amphibious Tractor Battalion in 1966-67. His outfit was assigned to various Marine divisions in ‘Nam — the 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th.
Bud Aronson , who lives on Manasota Key, Fla. has always favored the underdog, even when he served in the Marine Corps during World War II. Those days in the Corps there were no black officers, he explained. “A couple of buddies and me, from Springfield, Mass. enlisted in December 1942. We were put on…
Pete Peterson was lucky. He joined the Marine Corps at 17 in 1946, a few months after the end of World War II. Three years later he got out of the Corps in 1949, a few months before the start of the Korean War.
Ray Richards’ latest battle is as tough as the one he fought more than 60 years ago, when, as an 18-year-old Marine in the 3rd Marine Division, he saw action and was wounded at the start of the Battle for Iwo Jima during the final months of World War II.
Rudy Raymond of Bay Isles Estates in Nokomis, Fla. like thousands of other guys, was called back into the service when the Korean War broke out. In World War II he served as a Marine in the 2nd Air Warning Squadron at Okinawa.
Forty years after Marine Cpl. Randy Smith of Venice, Fla. lowered the flag for the last time at the American embassy in Saigon on April 29, 1975, he returned to Ho Chi Minh City on Nov. 10 to attend a Marine Corps Birthday Ball held in the South Vietnamese capital city for the first time…
Randy Smith of Venice, Fla., who served as a 19-year-old Marine Corps guard at the American Embassy in Saigon 40 years ago, is returning to Ho Chi Minh City, its new name, in a couple of days.
Bob Porter of Venice, Fla. served as a sergeant with the 5th Marine Division in World War II. He was with the first U.S. Marines killed or wounded at the Battle of Iwo Jima during the closing days of the Second World War.
Dick Trott, who lives in the Jacaranda Trace Apartments in Venice, Fla., came ashore on Feb. 19, 1945 in the second wave with the 5th Marine Division during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was a corporal operating a radio working with Navajo Code Talkers providing U.S. Marines with an unbreakable language to communicate in…
Sgt. Rudy Raymond of Bay Lake Estates mobile home park in Nokomis, Fla. arrived just in time to take part in the biggest battle in the Pacific Theatre during World War II–Okinawa. He was a member of the Second Marine Wing, Air Squadron 8.
Seventy-two years ago today MSgt. Gasper Buffa, a resident of Lexington Manor Assisted Living facility in Port Charlotte, Fla. served with the 1st Marine Division on Midway Island in the Pacific. He survived an attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy’s planes commanded by Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.
Operation Allen Brook in May 1968 was the worst of the numerous combat operations Cpl. Neal Gettle of Gulf Cove participated in during his 14 months of service with the Marine Corps in Vietnam.
Larry Cote of Holiday Park III in Englewood, Fla. former Marine Corps sergeant, kept baseball great Ted Williams’ F9F “Panther” jet fighter plane in the air while serving as an airplane mechanic with the 1st Marine Division at the end of the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Three times Gene Kopec of North Port was wounded while fighting in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. He received three Purple Hearts and took part in the Battle at Khe Sanh. Here North Vietnam Army regular troops and Vietcong guerillas went head-to-head against American and South Vietnamese soldiers along the Demilitarized Zone in the biggest…
When he wasn’t being a pretty good two-finger clerk typist for the United States Maine Corps, Cpl. Kean Mc Gill was a better than average “Junior Welter Weight” boxer for the Corps.
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.
Bill Jordan and Dick Boos were Marine Corps buddies. Jordan was a “DUKW,” landing craft, driver and Boos a medic. Jordan survived World War II. Boos didn’t. He fell in the black, volcanic sand of Iwo Jima, six months before the end of WWII. He was 19.
Tippy Burgess of Viscaya Mobile Home Park in El Jobean, Fla. joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 1939. His parents had passed away and his older brother was doing his best to keep what was left of his family–himself, two sisters and a younger brother together. Times were tough for this…
Guadalcanal was where the Japanese were stopped in their westward advance by American air, land and sea power. Former Marine Pfc. John O’Donnell, 84, of Holiday Park in Englewood, Fla. was a tiny part of that historic Pacific invasion. The battle began on Aug. 6, 1942, and continued for seven months during the early part…
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!
Randall Martin of Port Charlotte,Fla. joined the Marine Corps because he wanted to be part of the best. He went to Iraq on Super Bowl Sunday 2003 and served three tours there as a member of the 7th Engineering Support Battalion.
Ray Jasica, who now lives in Punta Gorda, Fla. was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in Marine Corps Aviation after graduating from training at Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1954.
For 38 years Joan Jacobson was the wife and then the widow of Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Douglas T. Jacobson USMC. It was a big responsibility. When she married her Marine officer husband she knew nothing about the Medal of Honor or what it represented.
Cpl. Robert Robb was a sniper attached to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Korea during the war. His unit took Hill 749, a volcanic mound known as the ‘Punchbowl,’ away from a regiment of North Koreans holding the high ground in mid-September 1951.
Pfc. Harold Tyler of Crystal Bay Condominiums, Lake Suzy, Fla. was in Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Regiment, 6th Marine Division on Palm Sunday morning, April 1, 1945, when his unit charged ashore on Okinawa, the biggest Pacific island battle of World War II.
Before Bill Ditto of Englewood, Fla. went aboard the battleship USS Missouri as a Marine guard in 1949, growing up in West Virginia, he had never seen the sea or a ship the size of the “Mighty Mo.”
Enemy artillery rounds and small-arms fire rained down in the water all around them as they came ashore on “Red Beach,” near the base of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, with U.S. Marines. Seaman/3rd Milt Alligood manned the steel ramp in the bow of the plywood Higgins Boat. He lowered it as the “Leathernecks” charged…
Chris Eaton was a spit and polish Marine. The lance corporal was a member of Alpha Company, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. His company was part of a special contingent of “Leathernecks” who presided at military funerals held in Arlington National Cemetery, at Tuesday evening Sunset Parade in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial in the…
In his dark blue Marine dress uniform trimmed with red piping, wearing white gloves and a white hat, Ernie O’Brien of Port Charlotte, Fla. stands ramrod straight at 87. He looks as if he could hit the beach at Guadalcanal, as he did more than 65 years ago. His silver mustache adds a touch of…
Ken Budd has an obsession. For 25 years he’s been trying to locate the remains of his older brother who was killed on Guadalcanal during World War II.
Lt. j.g. Vernon Martens United States Marine Corps was in the first wave of “Leathernecks” on the beach at Guadalcanal on Aug. 7, 1942. A doctor in the 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, he came ashore with his 1906 Springfield rifle in one hand and his medical supplies in the other.
Bob Hemingway of Lake Suzy, near Port Charlotte, Fla. was a junior in high school in New Haven, Conn. when he dropped out of school and joined the Marine Corps. He ended up in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division stationed at Camp Lajeune, N.C.
Twelve-year-old Slade Tully talked to his dad, Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Michael Joseph Tully, by phone from Baghdad for the last time Aug. 18, 2007. The sergeant was killed by a roadside bomb.
Ken Heitel was a “Cold War Warrior.” He flew an A-4E “Skyhawk,” jet fighter off the USS Independence, a Forrestal Class carrier, as a Marine Corps aviator serving in the Mediterranean during the early 1970s.
Paul Gailey, of Burnt Store Marina, Fla., was a crew chief in Marine Air Group 31, Squadron VMF-441, during the Battle of Okinawa, the last major island battle in the Pacific in World War II. As a sergeant, it was his job to keep his squadron of F4U Corsair fighters airborne.
Col. Ivar Svenson, United States Marine Corps, was in charge of plans and operations for the III Marine Amphibious Force headquarters unit stationed in Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1968. Ann Byerlein was head nurse of the intensive care unit at Da Nang Provincial Hospital in May of that year, during the height of the…
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.
Homer Beach was a “Buffalo,” amphibious vehicle driver, in the 3rd Marine Division. The 20-year-old corporal drove assault troops ashore on Guam, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima during World World II.
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.
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.
“We were flying over Rabaul at 15,000 feet and went into a dive in our (Douglas Dauntless) SBD dive bombers. Suddenly, I saw this Japanese Zero coming toward me. The pilot looked right at me as I started firing,” former Sgt. Mel Clark recalled six decades later.
Russell Holland of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. was a corporal in the 5th Marine Division on Feb. 19, 1945, when his unit went ashore on the first day of the battle for Iwo Jima. It was one of the major battles in the Pacific during the closing months of World War II.
Two days after graduating from high school in 1963 Skip Libby of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. joined the Marines and went to Parris Island, S.C. for basic training. Two years later he was sent to Vietnam as a member of the 3rd Marine Division, the first division of Marines in…
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.
John Campbell was gung-ho to join the Marine Corp. He quit high school in his sophomore year at 17 and became a “Leatherneck” in 1946.
Charlie Kukla arrived in Korea in June 1950 as a 19-year-old “grunt” in the 1st Marine Division. Within a week he was a prisoner of war.
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.
Lance Cpl. Chali Wolfrom, a 20-year-old Marine and North Port, Fla. High School graduate, has just returned from a six-month tour of duty in Ramadi, Iraq.
John Carlson has 30,000 plus hours of time flying Marine Corps fighter-bombers and transport planes around the country and throughout the world for 22 years and another 35 years piloting jets for Northwest Airlines.
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.
Lawrence Houle joined the Marine Corps in 1943 after graduating from high school in Grosvenordale, Conn. He first served with the 4th Marine Division during the invasion of the Marshal Islands.
Capt. Tom Smith United States Marine Corps wrote this account of his tour in Vietnam: “On July 1, 1968, while serving as platoon commander of 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines, I received orders for a mission. It was a four-day, three-night patrol to establish various platoon patrol bases and then conduct numerous…
Frank Bloom joined the Marine Corps Aviation Cadet Program while still in high school and learned to fly F4U Corsair fighters during World War II. He was called back during the Korean War.
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…
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…
Robert Stilson of Alameda Isles Mobile Home Park in Englewood, Fla. was a 19-year-old Marine Corps corporal who charged ashore from a Higgins Boat onto the black sandy beach at Iwo Jima on the first first day in the second wave –Feb. 19, 1945– to play his part in one of the major battles in the Pacific during the closing months of World War II.
Dick Honyak walked into the Charlotte Sun newspaper office in Englewood, Fla. six years ago and dropped a big, thick, loose leaf notebook full of 8 by 10 black and white photographs on my desk. The historic photos were of the Marines taking Iwo Jima from the Japanese at the close of World War II.
John Thomas Murphy was a Marine pilot who flew helicopters and observation planes in Vietnam during his two combat tours. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross on each deployment while piloting an H-34 helicopter and a OV-10 Bronco twin-engine spotter plane into withering North Vietnam Army fire.
John Henry Thomas was a Marine who served in the Pacific during World War II, but never fired a shot in battle. He was a carpenter before the war who worked in the woodworking shop at the Marine Corps barracks in Pearl Harbor almost a year after the Japanese bombed the Pacific Fleet at Pearl dragging the United States into 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.
Pvt. Hector Cafferata was a 20-year-old green Marine replacement. He joined Fox Company’s 2nd Platoon a few days before the first wave of Chinese troops attacked his listening post at the Toktong Pass during the early months of the Korean War that cold November night half a century ago.
Father Bill Magill of Venice, Fla. was a “Devil Dog.” He flew a Corsair, F-4U fighter, in the Pacific during World War II before he began working for the Lord.
The light cruiser Vicksburg laid a half-mile off the beach at Iwo Jima. Her 5-inch and 8-inch guns had pounded Mount Suribachi and the surround shoreline for days.
Cpl. Randy Smith knew the war in South Vietnam was over when he was ordered to take down the American flag at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
She emerged slowly from the car with cane in hand and walked hunched over along a serpentine concrete path. At its end was The Wall.