Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Goldsboro, N.C., USO Club-- Part 3

After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Seymour Johnson Filed became a separation center for returning personnel and by January the personnel were so reduced that the USO club closed, bur since their were rumors that the base might reopen, the lease was not given up then.

In January 1947, the building was formerly turned back to the Woman's Club.  The furniture and equipment used by the USO were sold to the club for $1,000.  Later the USO gave a cash settlement that was used to pay off the last $5,000 of the twenty year mortgage on the building.

In 1986, the Woman's Club turned the building over to the Wayne County Historical Society and today it continues as the Wayne County Museum.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Goldsboro, N.C., USO Club-- Part 2: Activities and Volunteerism

For four and a half years the USO was a round-the-clock haven for thousands of service men with time on their hands.  It was often their last stop before shipping off overseas.  Alterations to the building's structure became necessary.  Then, as today, the exterior resembled that of "an old southern mansion," which was how the soldiers referred to it.

Attendance reached as high as 12,000 a month.

Dances were held, picnics organized, crafts and and wives had a club of their own.   In the music room, a snack bar was provided and a comfortable furnished lounge with an open fireplace was available when needed.

My grandmother chaperoned many dances and my mom, then 12-15 during the war years, often danced with the soldiers (under "close" supervision of my grandmother, of course.

Woman's Club members acted as volunteer hostesses, chaperons, and even sewed on chevrons as well many other acts of kindness.

Special mention is made for Mrs. Henry Bartholomew, who gave over 6,000 hours of volunteer service time to the USO work and at the Traveler's Aid Housing Desk.  This is thought to be a record for any USO across the nation.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Goldsboro, N.C., U.S.O. Club-- Part 1: Goldsboro Woman's Club Building

From "A History  of the Goldsboro Woman's Club" by Emma R. Edwards and Ovelia  D. Rockwell.

The Goldsboro Woman's Club erected their own building in 1927.

During World War II, the Woman's Club went all out for the effort.  They sold war bonds among many things, but by far their biggest effort was when they "enlisted their beautiful building for the duration."  They inconvenienced themselves by doing so and had to find other places to meet.

One week after Pearl Harbor, the building became a defense center and later a city and county headquarters for rationing.  Red Cross Air Raid classes were also held there.  But, by far the biggest effort involved becoming the recreational headquarters of the newly established Seymour Johnson Field, a major Army Air Force Base.

The Woman's Club offered its building to the U.S.O. on a nonprofit basis, giving it the privilege of making interior alterations as needed.  Six agencies of the United Services Organization started using the building in August 1942.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Carson, 92

From the Nov. 24, 2015, Kansas City Star "Kansas City area  Pearl Harbor survivor dies" by Brian Burnes.

Died Monday at 92.

Was a member of U.S. Army Air Corps with a tow target detachment at Hickam Field.  Was awakened by a droning noise and went to his balcony and saw a Japanese plane pass overhead.

He never talked much about it until he attended a survivors commemoration in Pearl Harbor in 2006 and then became very active.

Born 1923 in Keokuk, Iowa and retired fro Air Force after 30 years.His death leaves just three Kansas City area survivors.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Charles Ebel in 2014

From the Nov. 27, 2014, Albany (NY) Times Union "Pearl Harbor Survivor from Guilderland dies at 95."

Charles Ebel died Tuesday.  he enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and was on the USS Curtiss having showered and eaten breakfast and was waiting for a friend to go surfing with him when the attack came.

He remembers looking up and seeing a Japanese pilot so close by that he could see him grinning, something that he will never forget.  Several of his shipmates died in the attack.  Later service in the war was on the USS Hornet.

Mr. Ebel was among the last three Pearl Harbor veterans in the area.


Last Living USS Arizona Survivors Toast Lost Shipmates

From the November 15, 2014, Hawaii Star Advertiser "Last living Arizona sailors to share a toast" by William Cote.

Four of the eight remaining survivors of the USS Arizona will be sharing a toast to their comrades still entombed on the ship as well as the ones who have since passed on the 73rd anniversary of that fateful day.

The four who will be attending are John Delmar Anderson, Lauren Fay Bruner, Louis A. Conter and Donald Gay Stratton.

They will drink from an original champagne glass from their stricken ship and do it at the USS Arizona Memorial.

This is especially sad in that one of the four, John Anderson died recently.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor John Schleicher

From the December 8, 2014 Herald Tribune (Florida) "Pearl Harbor survivor dies at age 93."

John Schleicher, 93, died Saturday night.  he waited 73 years to tell his family about his experiences that day.  he was being interviewed for an oral history and suffered a stroke while doing it last Wednesday.  he was sharing his story for the first time.

He was on the USS Pennsylvania which suffered 15 dead, 38 wounded and 14 missing.  He was a storekeeper First Class and later served on the battleship USS New Jersey and participated in many big actions in the Pacific including the Battle of Leyte Gulf.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Marion Kesler-- Part 2

Mr. Kesler was standing on deck of the USS Hulbert talking with the cook when he saw planes.  One was so close he could clearly see its pilot.  The ship's alarm didn't work and he ran below to alert the men eating breakfast who didn't believe him.  They said, "You're crazy.  Go get us more hash browns and eggs."

The cook, Wally Martenson, manned the 50-caliber machine gun and shot down a Japanese bomber.

Marion Kesler  was born September 21, 1919 in Parowin and was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps before enlisting in the U.S. Navy for six years to avoid being drafted into the Army.  After Pearl Harbor, he remained on the Hulbert for the rest of the war, including the Aleutian Islands.

He was a cook's helper and a cook.  A train trip while home on leave from Delta to Tooele enabled him to meet his wife, Viola, and they married September 10, 1944 in Los Angeles.  Viola was a Rosie the Riveter and placed control panels on aircraft being manufactured in South Dakota.


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Marion Kesler, 93-- Part 1: On USS Hulbert

Fr5om the April 14, 2015, Salt lake City Tribune "Marion Kesler, Utahn who survived Pearl Harbor, dies at 93" by Nate Carlisle.

He was a cook's helped on the USS Hulbert who warned his shipmates and then helped load cartridges into machine guns, died Friday at home in Taylorsville.  His wife, Viola, had died on February 17th.

Mr. Kesler  was one of seven Utahn Pearl Harbor survivors honored at the state Capitol on the 70th anniversary of the attack in 2011.  At least three of them still remain alive.

He was 22 and on the destroyer built at the end of World War I and converted to maintain Catalina amphibian patrol bombers.  His main duty was to take food from the galley to 125 men at mess below.


Friday, November 20, 2015

USS Arizona Survivor John Anderson Dies-- Part 2

John Anderson reported to his turret when the bomb hit the top of it, bounced off and penetrated the deck.  The resulting explosion killed many.  Shortly afterward,the forward magazine blew up with 1.5 million pounds of gunpowder.  This was killed the Arizona.

He was forced to board a boat to Ford Island, but came back to his ship to search for Jake.  After not finding his brother and now wounded, he swam back to the island.  Once there, he grabbed a rifle and two bandoliers of ammunition, jumped into a bomb crater and thought to himself, "Let 'em come."

A Marine patrol told him that survivors of the USS Arizona were to gather ar a nearby dock for a head count.  "Everybody I saw there had rags around their heads."  Bandages covered their arms, skin was scorched and hair burned off.  "Beat up something awful."

He spent the rest of the war on the destroyer USS MacDonough, which earned 14 Battle Stars.

I see the correct spelling of the destroyer USS MacDonough is Macdonough, named after the hero of the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Champlain. This ship was also at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

The Huffington Post has an extended video of Mr. Anderson going into greater detail of his Pearl Harbor and World War II experiences.


USS Arizona Survivor John Anderson Dies-- Part 1: On the Ship with His Twin Brother

From the Nov. 18, 2015, Twin Cities.com (Minnesota)  "former Minnesotan, oldest survivor of USS Arizona attack, dies at 98" by Helmut Schmidt.

John Anderson was born in Verona, North Dakota and had a twin brother named Jake.  The family moved to Dilworth, Minnesota, where they grew up.  John was one of 355 survivors of the Arizona that day.  His twin brother Jake was one of the 1,177 who did not.  He is also one of the 900 still entombed in the ship.

John began his Navy career on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, then served on a destroyer.  In 1940, he was transferred to the USS Arizona where he joined his twin brother Jake.  Both were turret gunners, though on different turrets.  John also had the additional duty of setting up chairs for Sunday morning worship and had just finished and was eating breakfast when the attack began.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Now, Just Seven USS Arizona Survivors Remain

From the previous two posts.

The seven remaining survivors:

Lauren Bruner, 95  La Mirada, California
Lou Conter, 94  Grass Valley, California

Connie Cook, 94  Morris, Oklahoma
Raymond Haerry, 93  West Warwick, Rhode Island

Clarendon Hetrick, 93  Las Vegas
Ken Potts, 94  Provo, Utah

Donald Stratton, 93  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Dwindling Numbers.  So Sad.  --GreGen

John Anderson, One of Last USS Arizona Survivors, Dies-- Part 2

John Anderson was eating breakfast on the Arizona when he heard an explosion and then one of the mess cooks yelled, "A bomb hit the island!"  (Ford Island by where the ship was docked)

He then headed to his post and then looked for his brother as the ship sank after the explosion.  An officer shoved him onto a boat and he was taken to nearby Ford Island, but he found his way on another boat and went back to the Arizona to look again for his brother but was never able to find him.

After the attack, he was transferred to the destroyer USS McDonough and took part in Pacific battles for the rest of the war.


John Anderson, One of Last USS Arizona Survivors, Dies at 98-- Part 1

From the November 16, 2015, AzCentral by Shaun McKinzie.

John Delmar Anderson, the oldest surviving crew member of the fated USS Arizona, died November 14th.  Less than a year earlier, he had returned to Pearl Harbor with three other survivors of that ship to toast the sailors and Marines who died that day which they did on the Arizona Memorial.

Just seven Arizona survivors now remain.

Mr. Anderson was well-known in Roswell, New Mexico as deejay "Cactus Jack" who met Elvis Presley before he made it big.  Later he was a weather meteorologist.

He was born on August 26, 1917 and had a twin brother named Delbert "Jake".  The family had another four sons and four daughters.  They grew up in Minnesota.  In 1937, John and his twin Jake decided to enlist in the Navy.

John reported to Bremerton, Washington, where he was assigned to the USS Arizona and later transferred to an aircraft carrier and then a destroyer before going back to the Arizona where he joined Jake in 1940.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor James Downing, USS West Virginia

From the Dec.7, 2013, Denver Post "Pearl Harbor survivor James Downing, 100, shares story of that fateful day" by Ryan Parker.

James Downing was then 28.  No one asked him as he hurried and memorized the names on the dog tags of men on his ship who had been killed or injured.  This was with the intention of notifying their families which he did.

He was gunner's mate 1st Class and postmaster on the USS West Virginia, which had just returned from a week long patrol off the coast of Hawaii.

Downing was off the ship and at his house where his wife of five months, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for him and some other service members.  That was when they heard explosions off in the distance.  Then an anti-aircraft shell landed in the yard and, according to Downing, blew a hole about 25-feet across.  he and the others jumped into a truck and sped back to Pearl harbor.

He got out to his ship, which was sinking and was there when a Japanese plane opened fire on it, but wasn't hit.  Afterwards, he began gathering the names.

Downing joined the Navy after high school for financial reasons and ended up spending 24 years in it, commanding the tanker USS Patapsco during the Korean War.


University Honors Oldest Living Pearl Harbor Survivor in 2014

From the Dec. 4, 2014, Daily Athenium (West Virginia University) by Courtney Gaffo.

Lt. James Downing, 101, was postmaster on the USS West Virginia the day the Japanese attacked.  Afterwards, he memorized the names of ever crew member killed or wounded and wrote notes to their families and explained what happened to their sons.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two Members of Famed Tuskegee Airmen and Best Friends Die on Same Day

From the Jan. 12, 2015, Star-Tribune by John Rogers.

Clarence E. Hunley and Joseph Shambrey grew up running track in the same Los Angeles neighborhood in the 1930s.  They both enlisted in the U.S. Army and then joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen together.  They were mechanics

After the war, they came home and married their respective sweethearts and got together almost once a month.

Around 19,000 men were in the Tuskegee Airmen counting pilots and ground personnel.

Quite a Story of Friendship.  --GreGen

One of Last Pensacola Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies, James Landis

From the Jan. 7, 2015, Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal "One of the last Pearl Harbor survivors passes" by Troy Moon.

James Landis was 21 and a Navy machinist mate on Ford Island and about 500 yards from the planes parked near the USS Utah, the first battleship sunk in the attack.

He ran to a plane but jumped in the wrong side.  A bullet went through his hand as he reached to open the canopy, but he managed to return with weapons from it and began firing.  He didn't even know he was wounded.  Mr. Landis went on to serve 30 years in the Navy, serving also in the Korean and Vietbnam wars  and received three Purple Hearts.

He died Nov. 24, 2014, at age 94.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death in 2014: Steve Jager

From the Dec. 16, 2014, Pennsylvania TribLive "Pearl Harbor Survivor, Steve Jager, 'kept their memory alive'" by Mary Ann Thomas.

Steve Jager, 94, died Sunday.  Regularly spoke at schools although he didn't speak about his wartime experiences until late in life.

He was a sergeant in the Army in the Hawaiian Department of Defense-Communications Division stationed ar Schofield Barracks when the attack started.


Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death in 2014: Rich Cmeyla.

From the Dec. 20, 2014, Green Bay (Wis) Gazette " Pearl Harbor Survivor gets deserving final salute" by Scott Cooper Williams.

Rich Cmeyla, 96, was 23 that day and died last week.  He was among perhaps the last 20 Wisconsin survivors and was the last survivor of the attack from Kewaukee County.

He was from Luxembourg, Wis. and after graduating from Algoma High School, enlisted in the Navy and was transferred to Hawaii just a few months before the attack.

He was getting ready for church when it started and remembered looking up and seeing a Japanese pilot waving at him.