- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I was born Oct. 12, 1926, in Baraboo, Wis., home of the Ringling Bros. circus family. I graduated from Baraboo High School in 1944, the University of Wisconsin in 1950 and the Graduate School of Banking with a banking and finance major and psychology minor. In the service, I did road and bridge construction, KP, office duties, mail call and outgoing mail censoring. I served in the U.S. Navy from November 1944 to June 1946.

I met Vern Siekmann and Peter Schults at boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill., in November 1944. We were together for most of the war. I volunteered for the 79th Seabees shortly after arriving at Great Lakes and was sent to Camp Parks in California for training. I went to Mass one Sunday in nearby Stockton and vividly remember the yard signs - “Sailors and dogs stay off the grass.”

I had a short stay at Camp Parks, then boarded a troop carrier for the South Pacific. There was a big storm in San Francisco harbor; high waves. Were we going to clear Golden Gate Bridge or sail under?

Order to clear decks, sea sickness inside for six days to Hawaii. Huge convoy, many types, course changes. Diamond Head in sight. Docked near a British aircraft carrier. Confined to ship while the vessel was serviced with supplies, replenished two days later, off to Saipan and Suicide Cliff.

Arrived Saipan. Tinian close by; the island had many B-29 bombers used to bomb Japan nightly. A B-29 took off every few minutes for hours. I volunteered to go on one of the flights. Three clearances were needed - I got two, but not the final. The plane and crew got back, but there were many damages and injuries. Chalk up another one for the Almighty.

Saipan to Okinawa. Slept on deck with our heavy equipment. The water was smooth, glasslike. On the starboard side, we watched flying fish and a large sea snake about 20 to 25 feet long. The water’s surface was broken by a Japanese submarine’s conning tower. The destroyer fired up its smoke screens, guns firing, depth charges exploding, convoy markedly changing course. They claimed the sub was sunk.

Arrive in Okinawa. Equipment off in good shape and time. Our mission was to build the campsite, then roads, bridges and aircraft runways. We did not know anti-aircraft batteries were nearby. When nighttime came, we learned quickly.

Japanese bombers came over nightly, flying high. Our searchlights lit them up like daytime - our shells did not reach high enough. Even more amazing were Japanese kamikaze planes trying to ram our ships in the harbor.

Nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan, ending World War II. Okinawa was not far away.

Returned home.

Joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after school in 1953 and retired from there in 1981. Was in the bank-examination division in Chicago for 10 years and in the main office in the District for 20 years. Lots of excitement - lots of high points and two lows - while stationed in the District. One high - a one-hour chat with Gary Francis Powers after the CIA pilot was captured and released by Russians. The lows - I was held twice by the Secret Service and released, outcome neutral.

I married my wife, Erma, on Sept. 4, 1954. We have one son, Chuck.

I have enjoyed my life, family and military service. I look up every day and say “Thank you.”


College Park

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