From World War II

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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…

‘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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.