Bob Burdick was a top turret gunner on a PV-1 Ventura patrol plane in the Pacific during World War II. The 88-year-old former gunner who now lives in Port Charlotte, Fla. with his wife, Maryan, saw combat at Tannin Island in the South Pacific, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Japanese home islands before war’s end.
From World War II
Petty Officer 1st Class Ida Scherf taught men aerial gunnery during WW II
In 1943 Ida Scherf was a Maine school teacher when she made a commitment to the war effort. She joined the WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. The 23-year-old school teacher was part of the first graduating class of women trained by the Navy to teach men aerial gunnery–how to shoot a .50 caliber…
Boatswain’s-mate Clarence Moore of Englewood towed ‘Nimitz’s Secret’ to Pacific war
They called it “Nimitz’s Secret.” All 10, 100-foot-long steel sections were towed by ship from San Francisco to Espiritus Santo, the main island in the New Hebrides chain. This floating steel dry dock for America’s Pacific Fleet during World War II was a military secret and a game changer.
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. Gasper Buffa survived Battle of Midway 72 years ago today
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.
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.
Sgt. Dick Samuelson of Tangerine Woods kept B-24s flying over Germany
Dick Samuelson of Tangerine Woods in Englewood, Fla. admits “I was no big war hero.”
2nd Lt. Dick Hughes flew B-25 “Mitchell” bomber on 30 combat missions in WW II
Dick Hughes of Paradise Park RV Resort south of Punta Gorda, Fla. flew a B-25, “Mitchell,” twin-engine bomber on 30 combat missions while serving in the 12th Air Force in Europe during World War II. He ended up in a “Mitchell” because a B-24 “Liberator” bomber was too big for him.
Elbert Bishop and crew of ‘Betty-J’ watched mushroom cloud rise over Nagasaki
It was their last mission aboard “Betty-J,” a B-24 four-engine bomber named for the pilot, Jack Bates’ wife, that Elbert Bishop of Paradise Park, east of Punta Gorda, remembers most. The crew was part of the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.
USS Billfish sent Japanese tanker to bottom
It was late in the war. Petty Officer 3rd Class Don Alger was on his first combat patrol aboard the USS Billfish (SS-286) sailing into Japanese waters. He was scared.
Englewood, Fla. man survived HMT Rohna sinking in ’43
In 1942 Dan Middleton joined the Army Air Corps instead of the Navy because he didn’t want to be sunk at sea.
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
Jewish boy survives the Holocaust – Paul Molnar and family sent to death camp at Auschwitz
By the time Paul Molnar was 14 he had survived the Holocaust. It would be two more years before he survived World War II.
Former B-17 pilot recalls dangerous missions near end of WWII – Combat flight over Cologne, Germany, most hazardous
By the time Capt. Bill Haase reached England and the 8th Air Force during the last half of World War II, he was an experienced aviator with 15 months under his belt flying new bombardiers on practice bombing missions stateside.
Leon Gumley of Sarasota died in John Wayne’s arms while making the 1949 war movie ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’
Leon Gumley died in John Wayne’s arms as they fought their way up Mount Suribachi in the closing minutes of the 1949 World War II movie “Sands of Iwo Jima.” He played Marine Pvt. Sid Stein and Wayne was Sgt. John Striker, the hero, who was also killed by a Japanese sniper’s bullet during the…
He bombed Saigon bridge in World War II – Sgt. Giff Stowell watched Japanese surrender on Ie Shima Island
Giff Stowell of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. was a gunner on an A-20 Havoc twin-engine bomber in the Pacific during his first nine months of combat in World War II. The rest of the war he flew as the nose gunner in “Lucky Strike,” a B-24 “Liberator” in the 380th…
He visited Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ at WWII’s close – David Youngs won the war with his typewriter
Dave Youngs turned mechanics into cooks when he wasn’t playing bridge, skiing and sightseeing around Europe on the weekends at the end of the Second World War.
The wedding dress that saved airman’s life at close of WW II
When Bill Bingham bailed out of “Lemon Squirts,” his doomed B-24 “Liberator” bomber over northern Italy on Mar. 4, 1945, he never considered the possibility the silk parachute that saved his life would become a family heirloom.
Sgt. Buster Yates stopped Nazi spy ring during World War II
Retired Staff Sgt. Buster Yates decided to volunteer for the U.S. Army Air Corps before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, launching the United States into World War II.
1st Lt. Andy Carrico and the 511th Parachute Infantry fought the Japanese on Leyte
1st Lt. Andy Carrico’s D-Company platoon, part of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, trained for five months on New Guinea in preparation for their assault on the Japanese-held island of Leyte. When his regiment landed on the beach at Leyte the enemy was nowhere to be found. But Carrico and the rest of his airborne…
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.
Pfc. Bill Jordan served aboard landing craft at Iwo Jima
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.
‘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.
He flew a C-47 transport plane from Bougainville in WWII
Bill Cunningham of Viscaya Lakes Mobile Home Park in El Jobean, Fla. was in his early 20s when he signed up for the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in July 1942. He was sent to Siena College in Loudernville, N.Y. were he received 40 hours of civilian flight training.
Sgt. Tippy Burgess USMC never fired shot in anger in Pacific during WW II
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…
He flew the longest bomber mission of WW II in a B-29 over Japan – Capt. Harold Keathley bombed Aomori in ‘Skookum’
It was Capt. Harold Keathley’s 33rd combat mission flying “Skookum,” a B-29 “Superfortress” over Japan loaded with incendiary bombs. The target: Aomori, located along the coast of Honshu, the northernmost main island. What made this bombing mission special was that the crew flew from Tinian Island in the Pacific to Aomori and back, a distance…
Dutch teenager put flowers on WWII soldier’s grave
Near the end of World War II, when Aggie Konings of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 15-year-old teenager living in Limburg, Holland, she volunteered to put flowers on the grave of an American soldier who had fallen in battle while liberating her homeland from the Germans.
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.
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…
Lt. Jean Clough was an Army nurse who served in North Africa & Italy during WW II
Jean Clough graduated from high school in 1938 at 17, but she couldn’t get into nursing school at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. until she was 18. It was a long year’s wait.
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.
A Marine at Guadalcanal – Pfc. John O’Donnell was in the 1st Marine Division
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…
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.
He flew 1st mission in B-17 to Japanese base at Rabaul – Lt. Col. John Pickering was also a ‘Candy Bomber’ in the Berlin Airlift
Five days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, 2nd Lt. John Pickering graduated from the U.S. Army Aviation Cadet Program. He had his wings, but he wasn’t qualified to fly anything but an AT-6 trainer.
Kamikazes were biggest problem during Battle for Okinawa, old sailor says
Okinawa was the bad battle as far as John Wrublevski was concerned. He served as a 3rd Class fitter aboard a liberty ship converted to a mother ship for 150 mine cutters, not minesweepers, named the USS Mona Island (ARG-9).
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.
Lt. Vern Greenwood flew 33 missions in B-24 bomber in Pacific during WW II
Vern Greenwood of Punta Gorda, Fla. signed up for the Aviation Cadet Program on Dec. 1, 1942, almost a year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor dragging the United States into World War II.
Pvt. Sherfick used his 1903 Springfield to shoot at Pearl Harbor attackers
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Pvt. Stan Sherfick of Punta Gorda, Fla. was playing catch with a buddy at Haleiwa Field on the north side of Oahu Island, where the 47th Pursuit Squadron was based.
Aviation-mechanic Robert Smith kept Navy flying during WW II
Times were tough for Robert Smith’s family when he was inducted into the Navy. “I sent 60 percent of my Navy pay home to my mother to help the family. My other three brothers did the same. I never played payday poker in the barracks,” he said.
Lt. j.g. Bill Timmis got Navy Cross for sinking Japanese battleship
Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey sailed into the sea of Japan, between the Japanese home islands and the Chinese mainland, with Task Group 38.3 consisting of five aircraft carriers, two battleships, four light cruisers and a group of destroyers.
Max Jones wasn’t expected to live long after becoming an aerial gunner in WW II
Max Jones’ life expectancy in World War II could be measured in minutes. He trained to be a back-seat gunner on twin .30 caliber machine-guns in a Grumman TBM “Avenger” Torpedo Bomber.
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.
A Savannah hurricane is what Helen Salins remembers most about WWII
Helen Salins of Polynesian Village in north Englewood, Fla. joined the WAVES during World War II. She was 25 and already a talented artist and a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in English.
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…
Sgt. Hugh Bennett was radio operator on B-24 dubbed ‘The Hard Way’ in WW II
Hugh Bennett of Englewood, Fla. was a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber dubbed “The Hard Way.” They were part of the 854th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 14th Wing of the 8th Air Force flying out of a base 90 miles north of London at Metfield, England.
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.
Seaman Kay Mc Neil keep SNJ trainers airborne at Pensacola Naval Station in WW II
Kay Mc Neil of Port Charlotte, Fla., who grew up in Boston and graduated from high school in 1941, went to work in a defense plant as an 18-year-old rivet-maker for “Rosie the Riveter.” Her second defense plant job was working for Bendix Corp. making airplane propellers.
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.
Margaret Hain asked FDR to get her out of defense plant and into WAVES
Margaret Hain is proud of her service in the military. “I was in the big one, WW II,” she said. “I served as a WAVE in the Medical Corps.”
Old note brings former airman and Englishman together again
More than 60 years after a former B-17 bomber mechanic wrote a goodbye note to a 9-year-old English boy during a going-away party for Americans near the close of World War II, the two were once again united through a computer.
He survived a Japanese concentration camp at 10 – Robert Rienstra lived in Dutch East Indies in 1942
When Japanese Imperial Army soldiers marched into Semarang, where Robert Rienstra lived, on the island of Java in what was then the Dutch East Indies, he was almost 10 years old. It was March 1942, and the Emperor’s forces were in their zenith, sweeping everything in the Far East before them.
B-17 pilot Ernest Erickson wrote about a bombing raid on Berlin during WW II
Ernest Erickson flew a “Flying Fortress,” four-engine bomber dubbed “Lili of the Lamplight,” from a base near Ipswich, England on 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe in 1943 and ’44 during World War II. It was one of thousands of B-17s flown by the 8th Air Force that devastated Germany.
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.
Joseph Brower served in 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron, 13th Air Force, WW II
Joe Brower of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Air Force to become a pilot, at the end of his senior year in high school late in World War II. Because they had more pilots than they needed, he ended up a staff sergeant and engineer aboard a “Flying Fortress” used for rescue in the Pacific…
He shook Hitler’s hand and fought the Japanese aboard Battleship Tennessee at Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa
Bruce Rohn served as fire control officer aboard the USS Tennessee after the World War I-era battleship, sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was raised from the bottom, repaired and sent to war. The 95-year-old Venice, Fla. resident and the Tennessee (BB-43) saw action at the Battle of the Philippine…
Two former local sailors helped rescue survivors from the Indianapolis sinking
Sharks, injuries and exposure killed many of the 883 sailors lost aboard the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea shortly before the of World Wr II.
John Schiro saw 37 engagements in Pacific aboard USS Independence in WW II
John Schiro sailed into battle aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) shortly after she was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in August 1943 as a member of the engine room’s “Black Gang.” When he left the carrier at war’s end he was the chief machinist-mate in the forward engine-room.
Shrapnel hit his Corsair on mission over Tokyo – 2nd Lt. Jack LeBoeuf thought ‘it was the end’
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!
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.
Harold Power couldn’t get in the military during WW II so he joined the Merchant Marines
Harold Power wasn’t physically fit enough to join any of the five military service branches during World War II. They turned him down because he had a bad back. At 18 he got in the U.S. Merchant Marines. He joined the outfit with the highest casualty rate, percentage-wise, in the second World War.
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…
My father, Thomas J. Moore, was a pioneer aerial photographer who began his mapping career in World War I
When I wrote this column in 2004 for the Charlotte Sun daily newspaper I was trying to make the point: Don’t do what I did and fail to interview your father about his military service and what he did in life after his time in the military. Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up to the fact…
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.
Arcadia flying-bomb basis for WW II German ‘Buzz Bomb’
The devastating German V-1 rockets that rained terror and death down on the inhabitants of London in World War II, during the ‘Blitz,’ had their birth in Arcadia, Fla.
Joan Jacobson recalls husband’s Medal of Honor exploits
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.
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.
Cornel Dolana survived WW II Ploesti raid and many more calamities on way to U.S.
Cornel Dolana is a survivor. As a child he survived the German occupation of his country on his parents’ family farm outside Ploesti, Romania during World War II. He survived the Communist takeover of his country as a teenager. He escaped Communism and fled to Yugoslavia, Italy, France and finally, in the early 1960s, the…
Lt. Bruno Virgili and Lulubelle Gaehner got ‘hitched’ before he flew off to WW II
Before flying off to war in North African in the spring of 1942 during World War II, Bruno Virgili married Lulubelle Gaehner. It wasn’t easy. He was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps stationed in Long Beach, Calif. She was working in a munitions plant in Connecticut.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man flew in three wars
As a kid Hal Johnson wanted to be a fighter pilot. When he joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 they made him a B-24 “Liberator” bomber pilot.
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.
Quartermaster Harold Tyson took part in 7 major battles aboard USS Sheridan during WW II
Harold Tyson was a teenage quartermaster 2nd class at the helm of the USS Sheridan (APA-51), an attack transport, in seven major Pacific battles during World War II. He and his ship took part in the Invasion of Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Leyte, Philippines and Okinawa, the largest island engagement during the Second World War.
U.S. 8th Air Force saved Britain from Hitler during WW II old airman says
The American 8th Air Force saved the English from being invaded and defeated by Germany during World War II, according to Wes Belleson, who served as a tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” flying from a field near Norwich, England during the Second World War.
Lt. Earl Swillum served aboard LST-121 at Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima & Okinawa
The hand-written note on the back of the framed 8 X 10-inch black and white photo on the wall of Earl Swillum’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home reads: “Iwo Jima, Day 3.” On the flip side it shows LST-121 on the beach with its bow in the island’s black volcanic sand two days before the Marines put an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
Englewood, Fla. man flew B-17 bomber missions over Berlin
The six missions Lt. Fred Hocker flew over Berlin with the crew of a B-17 bomber called “Fightin’-Bitin” were the very worst of the 23 combat missions he made as a navigator in the 306 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force during World War II.
Lt. Matt Williams flew a B-24 on 35 combat missions over Europe during WW II
1st Lt. Matt Williams of Englewood, Fla. flew his first combat mission piloting a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber over Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944, along the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
1st Lt. Rex Wilkinson bombed Ploiesti oil refineries and almost lost his B-24 bomber
1st Lt. Rex Wilkinson flew a shiny, silver B-24 “Liberator” bomber he named “Alberta K,” for his wife, from a base at Stornara, Italy on 51 combat missions in 1944 as part of the 745th Squadron, 456 Bomb Group, 15th Air Force.
He was aboard USS Walke when she sank off Guadalcanal – Seaman James Friel was gunner on destroyer
It was pitch dark 64 years ago this past week, when Seaman 1st Class James Friel of south Punta Gorda, Fla. jumped from the fantail of the USS Walke (DD-416) into Iron Bottom Sound at Guadalcanal after his destroyer was hit by a Japanese torpedo.
Bill Lightfoot of Quail Run condominium Englewood, Fla. taught British cadets to fly in WW II
Bill Lightfoot was in his fourth year in a small Presbyterian liberal arts college in South Carolina in 1941 when he got his civilian pilots license. He decided to quit school and become an aviation instructor for he United States Government.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man survived Battle of Okinawa
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.
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.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man survived the Yorktown’s sinking at Battle of Midway
Wilbur Kinney of Port Charlotte, Fla. was aboard the carrier USS Yorktown when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the decisive Battle of Midway that began June 4, 1942.
He flew as tail gunner in a B-24 ‘Liberator’ in the Pacific dubbed ‘Passionate Witch’
Carl Driver of Alligator Mobile Home Park on Taylor Road south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was the tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine, heavy bomber dubbed “Passionate Witch.” They were part of the 13 Air Force, 50th Bomb Group, 23 Bomb Squadron that flew from captured island air bases built by the Japanese in…
Lt. Clayton Raynes’ Stuttgart mission was worst combat flight he took during WW II
On an overcast April night in 1943 a lone B-17 bomber dubbed “Hotfoot Two” flew from Newfoundland to Greenland on its way to Scotland, Ireland, England and the war zone in Europe. The “Flying Fortress” was destined for the 8th Air Force to became one of the thousands of American, four-engine, heavy bombers to wield…
Despite lost engines, Southwest Florida man flew Battle of Bulge
Their target: A road intersection near Schonberg, Germany, at the close of the Battle of the Bulge. It was Hitler’s last and largest offensive on the western front during World War II, aimed at blunting the allied advance into the “Fatherland.”
WAC becomes editor and poster girl for Army during WW II
When Winifred Leiser joined the Women’s Army Corps during the early part of World War II, it never occurred to her that by the war’s end, she would have become a poster girl for the corps.
1st Lt. Tom Rebel survived B-24 ‘Liberator’ mid-air collision in WW II
Tom Rebel of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. said, “I wanted to be a bomber pilot. I wanted to fly the biggest thing they had.” He ended up piloting a four-engine B-29 “Superfortress,” the largest bomber mass-produced in the United States during World War II.
Coin flip saved Val Peterson from watery death in Second World War
It was Christmas Eve 1944 when Staff Sgt. Val Peterson and the 66th “Black Panther Division” got their marching orders. “We had been stationed in Dorchester, England, since mid-October when orders swept the camp to be ready to get out in two hours. We were taken to Southampton by truck,” the 84-year-old Port Charlotte, Fla.…
Airman receives Distinguished Flying Cross for raid over oil fields
Almost 63 years after a bombing raid in a B-24 “Liberator” over German oil refineries in Romania, former Tech. Sgt. Jay T. Fish of Englewood, Fla. received the Distinguished Flying Cross in an elaborate award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2007 along with the other eight members of the bomber’s crew.
Englewood, Fla. man’s sub sank carrier that attacked Pearl Harbor
The USS Cavalla (SS-244) was considered by some to be the luckiest ship in the submarine service. She sank the Japanese carrier Shokaku that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack, made 570 dives and sank 34,180 tons of enemy shipping near the end of World War II without sustaining any serious injuries to the crew.
Glenn Jenkins, a Navy vet who caused a federal inquiry on mustard gas, dead at 85
Glenn Jenkins is dead. In 1945 he was a 17-year-old sailor who grew up in Nokomis, Fla. and joined the Navy near the end of World War II. After graduation from boot camp in Bainbridge, Md. he volunteered for a secret Naval mustard gas experiment that made him the focal point of a headline-grabbing Congressional…
Al Bond helped liberate POW camp in the Philippines during WW II
Their objective: Los Banos Internment Camp, a prisoner-of-war stockade on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where 2,147 Allied POWs were languishing. The 1st Cavalry Division and the 37th Infantry Division were fighting to take the northern part of the island. A couple of dozen 11th Airborne troops jumped behind enemy lines into the…
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.
Cpl. Walter O’Malley was Marine BAR-man in first wave on Iwo Jima
Cpl. Walter O’Malley was a 19-year-old Browning Automatic Rifleman in the first wave of Marines who came ashore on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. His war ended six days later when he was struck in the leg and arm by two pieces of shrapnel from an enemy mortar.
Englewood, Fla. resident crewed a Higgins Boat at Iwo Jima
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…
Gunnery Sgt. Ernie O’Brien served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam
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…
Search continues for Marines killed during battle for Guadalcanal in WW II – Ken Budd has spent 25 years looking for older brother
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.
B-24 bomber badly shot up on flight over Berlin
Buried in a box of old pictures and military records tucked away in a chest of drawers in Vincent Durand’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home is a medal from long ago.
Rotonda, Fla. man fought in five major Pacific campaigns in WWII
Vincent Carvalho, second soldier from the left, is wearing a Smoky the Bear hat. The picture was taken in New Caledonia when the Americal Division first arrived in the Pacific in January 1942. Photo provided A year before the war started, in 1940, Cpl. Vincent Carvalho and the rest of the Massachusetts National Guard went…
Don Bunger was in last class of fighter pilots to graduate from Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Fla.
Don Bunger was in “Class 45-B,” the last class of pursuit pilots to graduate from Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Fla. at the end of World War II. He soloed and got his wings flying a Stearman PT-17 two cockpit biplane just days before the program closed for good.
Former Venice, Fla. coach served aboard USS Intrepid, during WW II – Dick Brown coached football, baseball and basketball at Venice High
Dick Brown thought he was going to be an 18-year-old naval aviator in 1944. He quickly found out the military had more young flyboys than it needed.
William Schick survived Auschwitz
The faded, blue tattooed numbers on the old man’s left forearm bear witness to the hell on earth he endured as a young man during World War II.
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…
Port Charlotte, Fla. man began military career as ‘Widowmaker’ pilot in WWII
Second Lt. Art Folaros of Port Charlotte, Fla. went to Europe in 1944 and trained to fly a B-26 twin-engine Marauder attack-bomber nicknamed the “Widowmaker” to provide tactical air support for Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army.
He was a Marine doctor at Guadalcanal, New Briton in WW 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.
Ed Jaworek flew bombers and transports in WW II, Berlin Airlift, Korea and Cuban Missile Crisis
Ed Jaworek was a co-pilot who flew a Mitchell B-25 twin-engine attack bomber on low-level combat missions for the 8th Air Force in Europe during World War II. He took part in the Berlin Air Lift, in 1949 and piloted a C-46 twin-engine “Commando” transport in and out of Berlin. When the Korean war rolled around, in the 1950s, he flew a medical air transport C-47 “Gooney Bird” during the last months of that war. A C-119 “Flying Boxcar” was his plane during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Southwest Florida man was expert marksman in WWII
Pfc. Hugo Filizetti was an “expert marksman” in World War II. That was his undoing.
North Port, Fla. man flew 34 combat missions in a B-24 over Nazi-occupied Europe
First Lt. Adam Kubinciak was the pilot of a B-24 “Liberator” bomber named “Miss Liberty,” part of the 706th Bomb Squadron, 446 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force stationed at Bungay, in southwestern England, during World War II.
Joe McKenney helped kept Military Air Lift Command flying at end of WWII
Joe McKenney of Arcadia, Fla. had just graduated from aviation training at Manhattan High School in New York City in 1943 when he enrolled in the Emergency Defense Training Program to become an aviation mechanic.
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.
Luther Johnson shot down in torpedo bomber over Japan; taken prisoner
Gunner’s Mate 2/C Luther Johnson was shot down in his TBM torpedo bomber during an attack on the Japanese fleet bottled up in Kure Bay, Japan in late July 1945. He was the back seat gunner on a ring-mounted .50-caliber machine-gun in an “Avenger,” part of Air Group VT-6 that flew from the deck of…
Man flew some of Merrill’s Marauders to safety
It wasn’t the brightest move on his part, former Sgt. Pete Chisholm admitted more than 60 years later in the comfort of his Southwest Fla. apartment. “I volunteered to help some of Merrill’s Marauders out. At the time I was an engineer on a C-47 (twin-engine transport) flying out of Dum-Dum Air Base just outside…
Aviator recalls life and B-29 bombers on Tinian Island
1st. Lt. Guice Johnson was the bombardier on the 12-man crew of the first B-29 to land on Tinian Island during the closing months of World War II. In fact, when Capt. Walter Schroder put down the wheels, the Seabees were still working to build the runway.
He survived Pearl Harbor attack – Seaman Joe Kleiss of Port Charlotte, Fla. was aboard USS Dobbin
Seventy-one years ago today, at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, Seaman Joe Kleiss was aboard the USS Dobbin, an auxiliary destroyer docked in Hawaii, writing a letter home to his mother.
He bombed Tokyo – 1st Lt. Bob Althoff flew 35 missions over Japan in a B-29 ‘Superfortress’
Old “Iron Pants” decreed that the B-29 bombers would fly firebomb raids over Tokyo at 7,000 feet after taking command of the 20th Air Force. The “Superfortress” crews had been flying raids at 25,000 feet, Bob Althoff, pilot of one of the bombers, recalled decades later.
Punta Gorda, Fla. man knows all about tsunamis – Seaman George McNeill’s troop ship was hit by a tsunami
George McNeill knows all about tsunamis like the one which devastated large portions of the southeast Asian coast of the Indian Ocean in 2005. He and the sailors aboard the troop transport, SS Denali, were hit by one in November 1942 while sailing from Seattle, Wash., to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
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…
Fred Sauer of Arcadia served on USS Intrepid and Marshall Islands, Philippines in WW II
The USS Intrepid sailed out of Pearl Harbor on Jan. 16, 1944 and headed for Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific during World War II. Fred Sauer of Arcadia served as an aviation electrician’s mate aboard the aircraft carrier.
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.
Corsair crew chief kept fighters in battle over Okinawa
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.
Ed McFadden served aboard USS Colorado during WW II
The toughest day of World War II for 17-year-old Seaman Ed McFadden was partway through the battle of Okinawa in March 1945. That day, he was not at his normal battle station in the foretop lookout 150 feet above the deck of the World War I battleship USS Colorado. That day he was on a…
Every gun on the destroyer was firing at the diving kamikaze – Seaman John Wilson knew he was in harm’s way
Seaman John Wilson knew his ship was in harm’s way when the kamikaze plane at which he was firing continued to grow in the sights of his twin 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
USS Crevalle led wolf pack through minefield – Seaman 1/C Leonard “Bull” Durham of Port Charlotte, Fla. was aboard
“Hellcats” is what Admiral Thomas Lockwood, commander of submarines in the Pacific, dubbed the first “wolf pack” to breach the Tsushima Straits minefield and anti-submarine nets between the southern island of Kyushu in the Japanese chain and the Korean peninsula during the closing months of World War II.
Englewood, Fla. man sailed to war in the Pacific – Gerold was 2nd in command on LST-742 in WWII
Carl Gerold was the executive officer on LST-742 in the Pacific during World War II.
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.
He flew The Hump 160 times – ‘I flew into the middle of a squadron of Japanese Zeros ‘ – Col. Baxendale
On one of the 160 missions he flew over “The Hump,” Lt. Col. Tom Baxendale ran head-on into a flight of Japanese Zero fighters. He was piloting an unarmed C-46 twin-engine transport loaded with 55-gallon drums of gas.
Col. Charles Milam begins 30-year military career at Okinawa – He served in WW II, Korea and Vietnam
Charles Milam of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a freshman on a football scholarship playing for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks in 1944 when he decided to join the Marine Corps.
B-17, B-24 bombers pounded Germany and Japan into submission during WW II
America’s airborne military might in Europe during World War II was hammered home by thousands of four-engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” and B-24, four-engine “Liberator” heavy bombers that dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” from 1943 until the end of the war two years later. By then, there was little left of…
He was in 1st Ranger Battalion in WW II – Sgt. Lawrence Gilbert landed in Sicily, Salerno and Anzio
Sgt. Lawrence Gilbert of North Port, Fla. was a member of the 1st Ranger Battalion attached to the 1st Division, part of Gen. George Patton’s 7th Army that landed in Sicily on July 10, 1943 during the middle of World War II.
A soldier’s story – Sgt. Bill Nickell spent 250 days on front lines
“I saw a 60-ton German Tiger tank about 100-feet away. It had nine machine guns and one 88 mm cannon pointing right at us,” Sgt. William Nickell of Punta Gorda, Fla. wrote in his World War II memoirs.
He flew one of last bombing missions in WW II – Lt. Chuck Rauch was B-24 navigator
Two days before VJ-Day, Japan’s surrender ending World War II, former Lt. Chuck Rauch, of Punta Gorda, Fla. was flying as navigator in an all black B-24 “Liberator” bomber. He was on a night mission to attack shipping at the north end of Ie Shima Island, part of the Japanese home islands.
Louie Wilson served aboard destroyer escort USS Barr at Iwo Jima & Okinawa
Before Louie Wilson of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy in May 1943 he and his late wife, Bea, had a roller skating act on stage in Vaudeville call The Wilson Duo. After boot camp and preliminary naval gunnery training he went aboard a destroyer escort, the USS Barr (DE-576), headed for battle in the…
Troop Carrier Wing kept MacArthur’s ‘island hopping’ going – Sgt. Harold Hayden was a flight engineer on a C-47
Harold Hayden of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a flight engineer aboard a C-47 twin-engine transport plane attached to Troop Carrier Wing 322, 374th Group, 24th Squadron, part of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s army in the Southwest Pacific during World War II.
Two old war horses recall their service to the troops in WW II, Korea and Vietnam
With her wispy white hair, her frail body and her tiny voice, Harriette Moore is the epitome of someone’s grandmother. Looks can be deceiving.
Seaman Jim Clawson sailed Atlantic a dozen times in transport ship in WW II
A dozen times or more Jim Clawson, who lives in Cross Creek RV Resort north of Arcadia, Fla. on US-17, crossed the Atlantic as the bow gunner on the William Gilles, a merchant ship, bringing tanks, planes and troops to North Africa and Europe during World War II.
Punta Gorda, Fla. man writes book on uncle’s WWII diary
U.S. Army Capt. Leo F. Gowen of Nanticoke, Pa., was a surgeon in an aid station behind the front lines in the 9th Medical Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment of Gen. Courtney H. Hodges 1st Army that fought through Europe during World War II.
‘Leggy Lady’ was a bomber like no other
Ret. Staff Sgt. Linwood Brown of Punta Gorda, Fla. was tail gunner in “Leggy Lady,” a B-25 Mitchell medium attack bomber, part of the 10th Air Force flying bombing raids in the China, Burma, India Theater in Burma, China and Thailand in late 1944 and almost until the end of World War II in ’45.
Ted Schulz was aboard USS Fiske when she was sunk by German U-boat
Ted Schulz of Port Charlotte, Fla. had already crossed the Atlantic three times aboard a destroyer escort, USS Fiske, protecting transports full of military supplies on their way to North Africa when his ship was reassigned to a hunter-killer group in the North Atlantic searching for German U-Boats.
WWII buddies meet up 55 years later
Bill Tannatt of Englewood, Fla. and Milton Dorr of Worcester, Mass., started out as members of the Yankee Division, the Massachusetts National Guard’s 26th Infantry Division, and ended up in the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division of the 5th Army during World War II.
Seaman Charles Kueny had one of the most dangerous jobs in the Navy in WW II
It was March 7, 1944 when Charles Kueny of Punta Gorda, Fla. got drafted. After a month’s basic training, instead of the usual 12 weeks, at Bainbridge, Md. he was sent aboard the USS Escalante a Navy tanker as a loader on a three-inch gun forward.
Operation Tiger was a man-killer – Manasota Key man participated in mock invasion that killed 749 American GIs
Operation Tiger was supposed to be a dry run, a dress rehearsal for the D-Day Invasion during World War II a few weeks away. What it turned out to be was a disaster for the Allied troops that has been covered up for almost 60 years.
Tom Peterson survived ‘Battle of the Bulge”
Tom Peterson’s baptism of fire came during the Battle of the Bulge, the biggest battle on the Western Front during World War II. He was a young 2nd lieutenant commanding a platoon of M-4 tanks, part of the 781st Tank Battalion attached to the 7th Army.
Carpenter’s Mate 2nd/C Bernie Strapp in ship repair unit in Pacific during WW II
Bernie Strapp of North Port, Fla. joined the Navy at 17 in February 1943 during the middle of World War II. Because he had taken carpentry in high school he wound up working in a ship repair unit in San Diego, Calif.
Chris Genovese served aboard the destroyer USS Rodman during WWII
By the time Radioman 3rd Class Chris Genovese and his destroyer, the USS Rodman, reached Okinawa during the closing months of World War II, the ship had taken part in the D-Day invasion, shot down a German JU-88 bomber, 15 Japanese kamikazes, sunk a German submarine during the invasion of Southern France, and escorted President…
Col. Clark received Silver Star for actions at Guadalcanal during WWII – He also saw front-line action in Korea and Vietnam
Col. Al R. Clark of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Oregon National Guard in 1935 at the age of 15. Before his 33-year regular Army career was over, he saw action on the front lines in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Harry Kaplun, part of 11th Airborne that captured Japanese Prison Camp
Harry Kaplun, who has lived in Venice, Fla. for more than 30 years, was a 22-year-old paratrooper who made a number of jumps as a member of the 457th Field Artillery Battalion of the 11th Airborne Division while fighting in the Pacific during World War II.
Bill Springer flew bomber escort in his P-51 Mustang
Bill Springer will never forget his first night on Iwo Jima, March 1, 1945.
Ensign David Weaver and Squadron VF-60 arrived on Saipan just before WW II’s end
David Weaver, who grew up in Charleston, S.C. and joined the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1943 when he was 21, was sent to the Pacific Fleet and assigned to Escort Carrier Group VF-60 at Saipan.
Elmer Watson served as medic in 242nd Infantry Regiment in Europe in WW II
When Elmer Watson arrived in Marseille, France aboard a victory ship he was a medic in the 242nd Infantry Regiment. His unit made it to the war in Europe on Dec. 11, 1944, just in time for the Battle of the Bulge.
Ted Sivyer served aboard two destroyers in WW II
Ted Sivyer of Country Club Estates in Venice manned a 20 mm antiaircraft gun on two destroyers, one during the Invasion of Sicily and North Africa and the other at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II.
Japanese Zeros shot down his B-24 bomber down
“Glamour Girl” is what Lt. Joe Hart and his B-24 “Liberator” crew were going to call their World War II bomber. But they never got a chance to paint it on the nose of their four-engine plane because they were shot down by Japanese fighters over China on their second combat mission during WWII.
Herb May of Port Charlotte, Fla. flew as tail gunner in B-24 called ‘Wild Pussy’
A tail gunner in a B-24 bomber dubbed “Wild Pussy,” Staff Sgt. Herb May was on one of the first daylight mission flown by the U.S. Air Force over Berlin in May 1944. He had plenty of company — there were 800 heavy bombers in the armada that day attacking the German capital.
Sgt. Lawrence Stout guarded German POWs in N.C. during WW II
Lawrence Stout of Lemon Bay mobile home park in Englewood, Fla. never fired a rifle in World War II. Because he could type he was made a clerk typist after completing boot camp at Camp Buckner, N.C. in February 1943.
Pfc. Keith Des Ermia served 28 days in Patton’s 3rd Army before being wounded
Pfc. Keith Des Ermia only fought as a replacement soldier in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II for 28 days before he was severely wounded by shrapnel from a German 88. He spent the next eight months recovering from his war wounds in hospitals in England and the United States.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man served in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army during World War
The first day former Sgt. Mike Labick arrived in Normandy in September 1944 he wound up in a front line foxhole at Saint-Lo as a newly-minted member of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
Cpl. Walter Mitchell ran a truck farm on Guadalcanal during WW II
Cpl. Walter Mitchell of Englewood, Fla. turned part of Guadalcanal, a major South Pacific battlefield in World War II, into a 5,000-acre truck farm once Japanese troops had been defeated.
He flew a ‘Gooney Bird’ over “The Hump’ in the China, Burma, India Campaign
It was a little hard to read, but the handwritten account of Maj. Thomas Lemery’s World War II career in the China, Burma and India Theater flying supplies in a C-47 Transport to the British 14th Army in Burma was a wonderful supplement to his fading memory.
1st Lt. Bob Normile flew Gen. MacArthur to the surrender ceremonies ending WWII
First Lt. Bob Normile, now living in Pine Brook in Venice, Fla. was copilot of the C-54 that flew Gen. Douglas MacArthur from Manila to Okinawa, Japan on Aug. 28, 1945, for the surrender ceremony ending World War II.
Pfc. John Silvani landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus 3; he was wounded at St. Lo a few days later
John Silvani grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Detroit, Mich., graduated from high school about the time World War II began and went to work at the Ford plant in Dearborn as a teenage tool-and-die maker after receiving a military deferment.
T/Sgt. Howard Dillingham nearly shot down in B-17 over Osha Buren
It was the railroad yard at Mannheim, Germany that was almost T/Sgt. Howard W. Dillingham’s and the other seven members of his B-17 bomber crew’s undoing.
He was at The Bulge – Pfc. Floyd Gantzer was in the 17th Airborne Division
Trained as a paratrooper at Fort Benning, Ga., in July 1944, former Pfc. Floyd Gantzer was attached to the 193rd Glider Infantry Regiment, part of the 17th Airborne Division at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in January 1945 during World War II.
He served aboard USS Shangri-La off Okinawa
The carrier USS Shangri-La sailed out of Pearl Harbor in early April 1945, headed for the war zone.
Lt. Harold Hewitt built bridges for the 9th Army in Europe during WWII
A couple of months after D-Day, 2nd Lt. Harold Hewitt of Port Charlotte, Fla. landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, with the 252nd Engineers Battalion, part of Gen. William “Tex” Simpson’s 9th Army fighting in Europe during World War II.
Deep Creek, Fla. man spent 22 years in Navy; served in WWII
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 .
Homer Beach ‘Buffalo’ driver in 3rd Marine Division at Iwo Jima during WWII
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.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man was a 10th Mountain Division sniper in Italy – Partridge got shot at Riva Ridge
A harmonica stopped a bullet from hitting Pcf. Al Partridge ‘s heart during the 5th Army’s assault in Italy’s Apennine Mountains in January 1944.
Marine Pfc. Frank Garcia attacked in first wave at Iwo Jima
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.
Ensign Harlan Twible recalls sharks, sea and fight for life after USS Indianapolis sank
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.
His LST made the invasions in Sicily and Normandy – Ensign Wolhuter served aboard LSTs 349 & 208
* 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…
POW writes diary while in WW II prison camp – Lt. Martin Fetherolf writes about his B-17 going down
“The DAY of Aug. 17, 1943 was to be, perhaps the most important and certainly the most eventful of my life to date,” the late Martin Fetherolf of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. wrote in his “War Log” from Stalag Luft-3 in the heart of Germany during World War II. It’s where he spent most of…
Bible helped Pfc. Bill Waits survive Stalag 7-A in Germany during WW II
The steel-plated gold cover on the outside of Bill Waits’ “Heart Shield Bible” he carried in his breast pocket while a rifleman in the 26th Infantry Division during the Allied invasion of France in the closing months of World War II was inscribed in flowing script: “May this keep you from harm.”
Jap sub sunk in Tokyo Bay by USS Sea Devil
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.
U.S. Navy pilot almost Japanese hero in WWII – Capt. ‘Slim’ Russell flew off USS Saratoga at Guadalcanal
“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.
Master Chief Herb Schmaeling served aboard USS Wasp, part of Adm. ‘Bull’ Halsey’s task force
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.
Fly spy – Punta Gorda man flew secret missions behind the ‘Iron Curtain’
“Ferrets flights” are what they were called. They were aptly named because the super-secret missions in modified B-29 bombers immediately after World War II were made to ferret out information about the Soviet Union’s most sensitive military sites.
‘Suddenly, I saw the Zero coming toward me’ – Sgt. Mel Clark rode shotgun in dive bomber during WWII
“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.
1st Lt. Bette Horstman says Japanese POWs were her best patients in WWII
Bette Horstman of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a physical therapist who graduated from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. near the end of World War II, joined the Army and was sent to Saipan as a 2nd lieutenant to help the troops recover from war wounds.
Port Charlotte man survived WWII torpedo attack
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.
Sgt. Richard Nolan kept P-40s, P-47s in the air in WWII
Richard Nolan of Deep Creek, Fla. enlisted in the Army a year before the United States entered World War II, never dreaming it would be a six-year, world-shattering event for him and the rest of the human race.
As WASP in World War II – Gwen Linder flew many military aircraft
She was one of the 1,074 Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) who flew military aircraft stateside in World War II. They replaced male pilots who were then sent into combat.
Cpl. Ed Zanck provided hot showers for troops in Gen. Mark Clark’s 5th Army
Ed Zanck of Farmington Vista condominium complex, Plantation subdivision south of Venice, Fla. was drafted into the Army in early 1942. He took part in the Invasion of North Africa and served in Gen. Mark Clark’s 5th Army throughout much of the Italian Campaign.
They captured U-505 – Art Coelho served on USS Pillsbury that boarded German sub
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…
Arcadia, Fla. man survived Tarawa ‘bloodbath’
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 – torpedoman aboard USS Barbero in WW II
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.
Facing death in a B-29 while bombing Japan in WWII
By Jim Hussmann Special to the Sun After graduating from the Air Corps’ Navigation School in San Marcos, Texas in December 1944, Jim Hussmann of Plantation Golf and Country Club south of Venice, Fla. was ordered to report to Alamogordo, N.M., where he and 10 other airmen specialists were to begin training as B-29 bomber…
North Port, Fla. man sailed Atlantic with Merchant Marines
John Baumer went down to the recruiting office in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew up to enlist in the Army in 1942 and ended up in the Merchant Marines before he walked out.
Pvt. Dan Hartnett jumped with 82nd Airborne in largest action in World War II
“WITH AMERICAN AIRBORNE FORCES, in Germany, March 24, 1945 — The greatest single airborne operation in all history was successfully launched east of the Rhine shortly before noon today by cooperating British and American forces.
He fought aboard destroyer USS Beale at Battle of Philippine Sea and Okinawa
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.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man served at Saipan, Leyte Gulf, Guam and Okinawa in WWII
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.
Jimmy Stewart taught Englewood man how to fly
Jimmy Stewart taught former 2nd Lt. Nick Radosevich of Englewood, Fla. how to fly a B-17 and B-24 bombers during World War II.
Phil Lockwood hit Normandy beach with 29th Infantry Division in WW II
Phil Lockwood of Port Charlotte, Fla. was in the 175h Artillery Company attached to the 29th Infantry Division that stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 spearheading the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II.
Ken Rivers of Port Charlotte, Fla. steered Destroyer Mansfield into battle in Tokyo Bay
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…
P-47 Thunderbolt squadron cleared way for Patton – 2nd Lt. Bill Wells flew offense at Battle of the Bulge
For their support of Gen. George Patton ‘s 3rd Army that stopped the German offense in World War II at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge , 2nd Lt. Bill Wells’ P-47 Thunderbolt squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation.
PGI resident fought 36 days at Iwo Jima
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.