Robert Jones of Florida Pines Mobile Home Court in Venice recalls the war years like they were yesterday. He saw action in the Pacific during World War II in New Guinea, Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Peleliu Island, Okinawa, and the Ryukyu Islands.
Joe Parry of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a radioman aboard an ammunition ship involved in three of the primary battles in the Pacific Theatre of Operation during World War II—Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines.
“I have not read ‘The Sacrificial Lambs’ by Bill Sholin. But I am a veteran of three Pacific invasions, Okinawa was one of them,” his letter read.
Al Trombi of Englewood, Fla. just returned from the first-ever Kamikaze Survivors Reunion held in Everett, Wash., last week. It was the trip of a lifetime for him.
Okinawa, the largest and most people-costly battle in the Pacific during World War II began Easter Sunday morning, Apr. 1, 1945. When it was over 82 days later on June 22 — 12,500 American Marines, Sailors, Solders and Airmen were dead and 55,000 were wounded on the 65-mile-long island.
During the Battle for the Philippines in World War II, Lt. j.g. Harley Cox of North Port, Fla. was catapulted off the deck of the carrier USS Tulagi (CVE-72) at the instant the engine of his Wildcat fighter died. He and his plane plunged into the sea in the path of his oncoming flattop.
John Henry Barrow II of Royal Palm Retirement Centre in Port Charlotte, Fla. served aboard a destroyer and a sub chaser in the Pacific during World War II. He took part in some of the major battles—Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa to name three. Saipan is the one the 90-year-old former local sailor remembers best.
By the time World War II ended, Oscar Hettema of Port Charlotte, Fla. had seen a lot of this world as a chief warrant officer in the Navy Seabees.
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…
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).
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
A Canadian resident with an American father who met his mother while living in the Montreal area, Bob Werner of Bay Indies Mobile Home Park was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force in 1946. He ended up in Sheppard Field, near Wichita Falls, Texas for basic which was the beginning of a series of…
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.
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…
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.
The carrier USS Shangri-La sailed out of Pearl Harbor in early April 1945, headed for the war zone.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Martin Warnke of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a spotter on a 20 millimeter anti-aircraft gun aboard landing craft (LST-66) that brought troops ashore at 15 major invasion beaches in the Pacific during World War II.
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.
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Richard Berry of Venice served aboard the USS Hudson (DD-470), on picket duty off Iwo Jima and Okinawa during the closing months of World War II.
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.
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…
It was Jan. 22, 1945 and Americans forces were already making air strikes on Okinawa. The captain of the battleship USS South Dakota got word a carrier plane had crashed into the sea off the Pacific island.
Julius Hirsch grew up in the Bronx and went to war almost a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the 862nd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion sent to the Aleutians when the Japanese invaded the barren islands off the Alaskan coast in 1942.
Charlie Householder served in Vietnam in 1969 as a Platoon Sergeant. with the 82nd Airborne Division at first and end up in the 25th Infantry Division in ‘Nam. He retired a decade later as a 1st Sergeant with the 82nd at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Willard Chamberlin was a Marine mess sergeant and rifleman who saw action at Okinawa, the biggest battle in the Pacific during the closing days of World War II. He quit high school in 1943, when he was just 17-year-old, and joined the Marines with his parents’ permission. Before the war was over he had three brothers who also served in the Army, Navy and Air Corps.
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.
Herb Wild of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy in 1942 during World War II as an 18 –year-old electronics assistant’s mate. His job was to repair the newfangled electronic equipment on airplanes flown by Navy pilots in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Bill Toledo, a Navajo Code Talker with the 3rd Marine Division in World War II, was in the area talking to several organizations and school groups, along with Frank Willetton, another Navajo who fought with the 2nd Marine Division at Okinawa. The Rotary Club of Englewood, Fla. brought them to town to speak at their 7 a.m. weekly meeting Thursday, March 25, 2010. While here they also talked to the general public at a two hour session held at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood on Thursday evening. A full house of 1st Marine Division Assn. member listened to the…
Capt. Neil Kennedy flew a KC-135 jet tanker in Vietnam War and continued to pilot the same flying gas station for the Strategic Air Command after the Southeast Asian war. He retired in 1991 as a brigadier general after 32 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force National Guard and moved to Calusa Lakes subdivision in Nokomis, Fla.
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.”
Okinawa was the end of the line in the Pacific for the Japanese Imperial Army. The island invasion included 548,000 Allied forces and 1,200 ships. The initial assault force totaled 182,000 men – 75,000 more than landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, a year earlier. They were facing 100,000 entrenched Japanese.
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.