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.
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…
1st Lt. Ken Stetson, was at the controls of a B-29 “Superfortress” the crew named “Tanaka Termite” when it was attacked by Japanese fighter planes while flying in formation over Mount Fuji on their first of 30 combat missions to Japan.
The headline on the story in the Sun read: ‘Jack Callahan served aboard USS St. Mary’s at Okinawa.’ Rudy Ricci of Windmill Village mobile home park in Punta Gorda, Fla. couldn’t believe his eyes.
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.
A spread of three “Long Lance” Japanese torpedoes struck the light cruiser USS Helena at 2 a.m., July 6, 1943 off Vella Lavella Island, part of the Solomon Island Chain in the South Pacific. Machinist Mate Ken Schank of Port Charlotte was at his battle station maintaining an electric generator controlling the cruiser’s main guns in the bowels of the ship deep below the surface when disaster struck.
Like a Biblical plague of locusts, the kamikazes swept across the Allied fleet in the Southwest Pacific during the closing months of World War II. The Japanese called them the “Divine Wind.” The sailors in Adm. “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38 called them “hell.”