In 1944, Val Gerald was a petty officer second class serving aboard the USS Randolph, an Essex Class aircraft carrier in World War II. Today the 89-year-old former Navy man is a resident, along with his wife Olga, of The Courtyard, an assisted living facility in Port Charlotte. Fla.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.