Lawrence Frazer of South Gulf Cove, Fla. was a 16-year-old sailor on the main number-2 five-inch gun aboard the USS Killen (DD-539), a Fletcher Class destroyer, during the battle of the Surigao Strait off Leyte in the Philippines on Oct. 25, 1944, in World War II.
The carrier USS Shangri-La sailed out of Pearl Harbor in early April 1945, headed for the war zone.
Tom Edwards of Deep Creek, Fla. was a Navy man through and through. He joined the Navy when he was 17 on Nov. 25, 1940 — his birthday — and made it his life for 22 years .
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.
* George Wolhuter took all of the black and white photographs presented here with his twin-lens reflex camera. He also developed and printed them aboard ship in the darkroom on his LST. Ensign George Wolhuter was a gunnery officer aboard an LST which took part in the invasion of Sicily, a secret Malaysian invasion, and…
The enemy submarine, I-374, sailed out of Tokyo Bay into the open Pacific shortly before sunrise on Sept. 22, 1944. Capt. Ralph Styles, skipper of the sub USS Sea Devil, was laying in wait submerged near the harbor’s entrance.
After 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy, Eugene Maresca retired in 1983 as a full commander. He served three years in the regular Navy and the rest in the Naval Reserve.
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.
“At Guadalcanal, I was almost a war hero to the Japanese,” Allard Guy “Slim” Russell of Sarasota, Fla. said with a smile. “I dropped my first 500-pound bomb on the 75-mile long, 25-mile-wide enemy-held South Pacific island.
By the time Master Chief Herb Schmaeling retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1971 he had served in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp in World War II and during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Arthur Anderssen of Burnt Store Isles south of Punta Gorda, Fla. graduated from Auburn University in 1962 on a Navy ROTC scholarship and joined the Navy immediately to complete his four year obligation. Thus began his 26 year military career.
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.
Seaman 1st Class Art Coelho of Port Charlotte, Fla. wasn’t aboard the USS Pillsbury (DE-133) when she took part in the sinking of the U-515, a German submarine, off the Madeira Islands in the Atlantic near the North African coast. However, he was on her two months later when the same destroyer escort helped capture…
Seaman 3rd Class Howard Halsey was a 20-year-old assigned to a 20-millimeter anti-aircraft gun on the destroyer USS Kimberly off Tarawa, a tiny island in the Central Pacific.
John Socotch was a 20-year-old torpedoman when he went aboard the USS Barbero (SS-317) submarine in Freemantle, Australia Aug. 9, 1944. The new Balao Class sub sailed to war into the South China Sea, between Japan and China Sea, on her first combat patrol Oct. 4.
From the pages of the diary he kept aboard the destroyer he served on– the USS Beale (DD-471) — Ray Pomeroy of Rotonda, Fla. was able to recreate two of the biggest sea battles of World War II he fought in: The Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Okinawa.
D-Day was June 15, 1944. It was the baptism of fire for the crew of the new attack transport USS Comet (APA-166) off Saipan Island in the Pacific’s Marshall Islands chain during World War II.
By the time Ken Rivers of Port Charlotte, Fla. was 20 he had taken part in seven major engagements in the Pacific in World War II aboard the destroyer USS Mansfield (DD-728), participated in the first naval battle of the war in Tokyo Bay and attended the Surrender Ceremony on Sept. 2, 1945 when the…
Forty years after rockets rained down on their Tango Boat operating in South Vietnam’s Cau Lon River delta country, killing or wounding all seven crew members, Soan Ngo, skipper of the beleaguered boat, and Jim Milstead, his American advisor, were recently reunited in Venice, Fla. thanks to the efforts of a friend and the internet.
When the Japanese attacked the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, Baker 3rd Class Dale Augerson had just put a batch of apple pies in the oven aboard the battleship USS West Virginia. The battleship was moored at “Battleship Row,” together with most of the fleet’s other capital ships.
George Burger of Rotonda, near Port Charlotte, Fla., was a radar operator aboard a four-engine Navy Super Constellation patrol plane flying out of Argentia Naval Air Station, Newfoundland in the mid 1950s during the “Cold War” searching for Soviet missiles and submarines as a member of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 13.
Just like Mr. Roberts, who served aboard the USS Reluctant, Seaman 1st Class Ed Blissick of Gardens of Gulf Cove near Port Charlotte, Fla. served on a similar attack transport, the USS Montague, AKA-98, during the final months of World War II.
Don Fowler was born in Arcadia, Florida in 1925. “I was going to graduate from DeSoto County High School in 1943, but I joined the Navy to see the world that March,” Fowler, who lives in Rotonda, Fla. said more than six decades later.
It wasn’t the bombing of the carrier USS Franklin off the coast of Japan on March 19, 1945, or the attack by 31 Kamikazes on the four destroyers leading the Franklin’s task force off Okinawa on April 14, 1945, that John Wisse of Rotonda, Fla. considers his worst day in World War II.
Jefferson Askew joined the Navy at age 23 in 1940, almost a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. By war’s end, he had made 38 trips across the Atlantic in a minuscule destroyer escort, the USS Amick, helping to protect 150-ship convoys making the hazardous voyage to Europe during World War II.
Otis Manchester of North Port, Fla. always wanted to go to sea and see the world. His father had served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and he volunteer for the Navy a year before the start of the Korean War.
At 90 Don Lumsden of Boca Royale subdivision in Englewood, Fla. has the distinction of being the oldest living “Frogman” in the United States of America. He learned about this honor a few days ago from Mike Howard, Director of the Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.
The Tachibana Maru was the only Japanese ship captured under sail by the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Chief Julius Gervan of Burnt Store Isles subdivision south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was in charge of the forward engine-room aboard the destroyer USS Thatcher II (DD-514) when a kamikaze pilot crashed his plane into the the ship’s super structure and burst into flames killing 14 sailors and wounding 56 more during the Battle for…
Dick Henry of Foxwood subdivision in Englewood piloted a “Higgins Boat,” a plywood landing craft, in six major invasions during World War II. However, the closest he came to being killed during the war was in a typhoon one night off Okinawa.
Larry McClure of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. thinks of himself as a Pearl Harbor baby. He was born on Dec. 20, 1941 at the Naval hospital in Pearl Harbor. His father was a Navy chief at the time serving with the Pacific Fleet at Pearl. His dad was aboard the carrier USS Lexington when she…
Harry Weis of Punta Gorda, Fla. served aboard the escort carrier USS Santee. He took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval engagement in World War II. It was the first time the Japanese Imperial Navy used kamikaze airplanes to attack the Allied fleet.
John Callahan , of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla., was the coxswain of a Higgins Boat, a plywood and steel landing craft built in the New Orleans area. He and his wooden boat played a part in the Battle of Okinawa, the biggest battle in the Pacific during the Second World War.
George Gallagher of Englewood, Fla. was serving aboard the USS Trutta, a Tench-Class submarine, as a motor machinist-mate 2nd/class when they picked up a downed P-51 Mustang fighter pilot who was shot down and adrift almost a week in a yellow life raft in the East China Sea.
Despite the German U-boat packs prowling the Atlantic, Seaman 1/C Bob Frazier survived 10 round-trips in the USS Susan B. Anthony, an attack transport, without a scratch taking troops to Europe in World War II.
Navy Corpsman Bill Remley of Royal Palm Retirement Home in Port Charlotte, Fla. was aboard the heavy cruiser USS Vincennes watching the “Doolittle Raiders” fly their B-25, twin-engine bombers off the deck of the carrier USS Hornet on their way to bomb Japan four months after devastating the American fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec.…
At 90 years old, Bob Boliere of Stillwater Villas in Englewood, Fla. may be the last of the U.S. Army’s horse cavalry.
Dorothy Arft loves the Navy. She spent one four-year hitch in the service as a seaman and 29 years working as a civilian employee for the Navy.
The exploding Japanese torpedo sheared off 15 feet of the destroyer USS Benham’s bow during a night engagement off Guadalcanal on Nov. 14, 1942. Machinest-mate 3rd Class Henry Horst was two decks down in the magazine of the ship’s number one, five-inch main gun when disaster struck.
Before Richard Perrin became chief chef and owner of RK’s Café at Bobcat Village Center, North Port, Fla. he was an air traffic controller aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson serving in the Gulf of Oman when Saddam Hussein marched his troops into Kuwait in 1990 launching “Operation Dessert Storm” which started the Gulf…
Former Lt. Col. Abe Wolson of Port Charlotte, Fla. served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He piloted Marine Corps 1, the presidential helicopter, during the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. He served three tours in Vietnam in 1961, ’67 and ’72, flying helicopters in combat for Special Operations missions, among other…
Four days after delivering the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan to Tinian Island in the Pacific during the final days of World War II, the USS Indianapolis was hit by two torpedoes from a Japanese sub. She sunk in 12 minutes and her demise resulted in the biggest loss of life in the U.S.…
Roland Petit of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. served aboard an LST (Landing Ship Tank) and ashore as an interpreter in World War II. It wasn’t easy. He had to fight his way into the Navy.
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.
What Albert Reale of Port Charlotte, Fla. remembers most about World War II are not the battles, but the typhoon that ravaged Okinawa during the final weeks of the war.
Bob Arnold became a Navy man just like his dad. His father served aboard the USS Langley, American’s first aircraft carrier, before World War II.
1st Lt. Richard Burns almost “bought the farm” on his 95th combat mission over North Korea in his F-84 “Thunderjet.” His squadron’s objective: knock out an enemy bridge.
Warner Heinrich of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a Browning Auitomatic Rifleman who served in the 43rd Infantry Division in the Pacific during World War II. He saw action at Guadalcanal and Leyte in the Philippines.
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…
Mickey LeMay of Rotonda, Fla. is a survivor of the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, an American spy ship caught up in the Arab-Israeli “Six Day War.” When the strafing, bombing and torpedoing of the converted freighter by Israeli fighter-bombers and gun boats stopped, 34 American servicemen were dead and 171 wounded.
Ed Scarff had a 30 year military career that spanned two services and three wars. He enlisted in the Navy in WWII as a teenaged machinest-mate and ended up joining the Air Force’s Aviation Cadet Program and flew jet fighters in Korea and Vietnam.
Vernon Olsen, 91 — who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the battleship USS Arizona, swam away from the carrier USS Lexington as it was sinking during the Battle of the Coral Sea months later, and took part in the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests after the war — died Friday, April 22,…
Right out of high school Clyde Leininger, who lives in Alligator Mobile Home Park south of Punta Gorda, Fla. joined the Naval Aviation Cadet Program to become a pilot. Before he got his wings the program was canceled in October 1944 because the Navy had too many pilots.
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.
When Eugene “Fuzzy” Fazekas of Spanish Lakes mobile home park in Nokomis, Fla. sailed to war as a corpsman with Naval Advance Group 56 in 1944 he hadn’t been given any medical training.
Millie Edsall was a registered nurse working in a doctor’s office in Joliet, Ill. when the Second World War erupted. At 20, in 1938, she graduated from St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Joliet.
Angelo Marinelli is the swabbie in the center. He and his buddies had just dropped FDR off at Malta and were touring the island on a sunny Sunday. President Roosevelt met with Egyptian King Farouk aboard the USS Quincy in July 1944. Photo provided Boatswain’s mate Angelo Marinelli knew something big was up when a bathtub was brought aboard his ship, the heavy cruiser USS Quincy, in December 1944 while it was moored at the Boston Navy Yard.
Looking back on it all, Tom Gould of Venice says, “I was 17 and just out of high school. I was a rebel without a cause. My father told me I had three choices: ‘I could get a job, go in the service or go to reform school.’
His dark blue ball cap with the orange patch and gold lettering read: “SCOUTS AND RAIDERS, 1942-1945, U.S. NAVY WW II, WE LEAD THE WAY.” It was what Art Nicholas of Englewood, Fla. wore when he, his wife and two grown daughters visited all five beaches in Normandy, France on the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion during the summer of 2009.
His story could have been a page out of “South Pacific,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical set in the Solomon Islands during World War II.
Bob Bolling missed World War II altogether. He signed up for the navy in 1946 right out of high school. After boot camp in Bainbridge, Md. he went aboard the escort carrier USS Salerno Bay, CVE-110, in Norfolk, Va.
Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Thomas McLean’s war in the Pacific lasted a little over three months. He sailed aboard the USS Tollberg, APD-103, for Pearl Harbor arriving April 22, 1945.
Jerry Hemphill served aboard the USS Missouri as a Japanese intercept operator. He was the first American to intercept the official code from Tokyo that the emperor was calling it quits. World War II was almost over.
Jim McKinney is a Navy man. So was his father and so is his son. Jim was a career naval officer who served during the Cold War as a commodore of a squadron of hydrofoil boats in Key West equipped with Harpoon, ship-to-ship guided missiles. His father, Adm. Eugene McKinney, was skipper of two World War II submarines: the USS Salmon and the USS Skate. He received three Navy Crosses and a Silver Star for Valor for the combat missions he made. Brad, Jim’s oldest son, is the commander of the Explosive Ordinance Department at the Navy’s facility at Panama Beach.
By the time Radioman 2nd/Class Vern Nelson came aboard PT-108 in the South Pacific in 1944 the torpedo boat had seen lots of action against the Japanese in World War II. As part of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron FIVE the 80-foot plywood craft first operated out of the Panama Canal Zone starting in July starting in 1942.
World War II was over. The Japanese had signed the surrender aboard the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay a few weeks earlier when Shipfitter 2nd-Class Rudy Ricci of Windmill Village, Punta Gorda, Fla. stepped into the limelight. He served aboard the USS St. Mary’s off Okinawa Island during a typhoon in Buckner Bay that nearly…
When the Japanese surrendered abroad the Battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945 America’s airborne military might was on display. An armada of U.S. fighters and bombers flew low and slow over the “Mighty Mo” to hammer home to the Japanese they had been vanquished.
Tony Inzerillo of Seminole Lakes subdivision, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. almost missed World War II. He and the rest of the crew of the submarine USS Thornback, SS-418, made one combat cruise off the coast of mainland Japan a month before the Japanese unconditionally surrendered ending the Second World War.
There’s not much Nick Gassera remembers about serving as a seaman aboard the destroyer USS Collett, DD-730, during World War II. But three images still vividly stick out in his mind about World War II after more than six decades—Okinawa, the typhoon and being aboard the first American ship to sail into Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.
Mike Stata was a “hot shell man” on a 5-inch gun aboard the destroyer USS Harding 1500 yards off Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 during the Normandy Invasion. He also served aboard the Harding off Okinawa on April 16, 1945 when his ship was hit by a kamikaze and 22 sailors aboard the destroyer were killed.
John Arens served as a teenage Merchant Mariner in World War II, become an Airborne Ranger in the Korean War, graduated from diving school in the 1960s, spent 11 years as a Navy SCUBA diver in the Arctic before skippering a Navy spy ship during the Cold War and completed his 40-year military career as the captain of a fast transport ship during “Operation Desert Storm” in 1991.
Bill Roy was a 21-year-old photographer’s mate aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown when she was sunk by an enemy submarine at the Battle of Midway June 7, 1942.Midway was the defining battle in the Pacific Theater during the first six months of World War II. The United States went to war after its Pacific…
It was Ensign Woody Lindskog’s lucky day. The Navy pilot was plucked from Wasile Bay off Halmahera Island in the South Pacific by an Army Air Corps Catalina flying boat, right under the nose of a Japanese gun emplacement and thousands of enemy troops after his Hellcat fighter was hit by an antiaircraft flak and…
Chester M. “Whitey” Mack was skipper of the Lapon. It may have been the sharpest submarine in the U.S. Navy when he was at the helm.
Thomas Moore was an 18-year-old street-smart kid who grew up on his own in Monticello, N.Y. He joined the Navy on Sept. 10, 1940.
The Yamato was the largest battleship ever built. She had bigger guns and heavier armament than any ship afloat. Despite her size and fire power, the mightily leviathan’s hours were numbered as she and her small battle group steamed toward Okinawa on April 7, 1945.
Lt. Charles Bailey, Sr. was the last of the line. He was the last of Punta Gorda, Fla.’s “Fighting Bailey Brothers.” The last of a family of seven sons and two daughters who distinguished themselves in war and in life during World War II, Korea and much of the 20th Century.
Andy Knef joined the Navy in 1942 at 17 with his parent’s permission. Trained as an aviation machinist mate, he spent most of his time as a tail-gunner on a Martin Mariner (PBM) twin-engine seaplane flying combat missions in the Atlantic and Pacific.
The crippled German battleship Bismarck was just over the horizon, steaming erratically with two jammed rudders, the result of an earlier attack by ancient fabric-covered British torpedo bombers flying from the deck of the carrier HMS Ark Royal. The date was May 26, 1941.