- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NEW ORLEANS

It was the end of the line for the battered hulk of a PT boat at New Orleans’ National World War II museum, and an appropriate setting for the final reunion of a group of veterans who served on such vessels.

The 16 elderly survivors down from 21 last year of Peter Tare Inc., an organization for former officers of PT boats, lined up next to the boat Friday, taking one last sail down memory lane.

For them, World War II is really almost over now.

“It’s sort of pitiful the way the crowd has dwindled,” said William Paynter, 90, who commanded both a PT boat and a squadron in the South Pacific.

“The executive secretary is just getting over a stroke and it seemed like the best time to do it,” he said of the reunion.

The group, which began meeting in 1947, has better than $25,000 in assets, Mr. Paynter said. Originally the plan was to turn the assets over to the sole survivor, but as the years passed, that seemed impractical.

“We began to wonder how we would do that,” he said. “The funds would be in the bank, but there might not be anyone to sign a check.”

Now they plan to turn it over to the P.T. Boats Inc., which has restored and displays a pair of PT boats at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Mass.

Peter Tare, so named for the phonetics used to designate letters in World War II P, Peter; T, Tare was formed for officers on the small boats used to harry the enemy during the war. The most famous members were former President John F. Kennedy and former Supreme Court Justice Byron White.

The boats, with their roaring engines, were frequently called motor torpedo boats. They were small, made of wood, and fast capable of going 45 to 60 miles an hour.

“People ask me if I have a sailboat or a motor boat,” said Ed Jepsen, 90, of San Francisco. “I tell them I was spoiled for that when the Navy gave me a crew of 16, three 1,500-horse power engines and all the fuel I needed.”

Somewhere between 60,000 and 66,000 men served on the boats. Today roughly 18 PT boats have been located, most of them in poor shape. The hulk at the D-Day museum will be restored and put on display, said museum spokeswoman Clem Goldberger.


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