Salute to our Korean Veterans.
James (Jim) Melbourne Cannon, Jr. was born March 14, 1933, in Greer, South Carolina. During WWII, his family moved often as his step-father was involved in the construction of military bases, settling at war's end in Orangeburg, SC. As a youth, Jim kept a detailed scrapbook of news clippings from events during the war. Naturally, one of the first pictures in the scrapbook was that of an aircraft carrier. Living with his father's family for his senior year in high school, he graduated from George Washington High, Inglewood, CA, in 1951.
He enlisted in the Navy April 9, 1952, heading to boot camp (Company No. 317) in San Diego. In December 1952, he was assigned to the USS Rendova CVE-114, home port in Long Beach. The Rendova had recently returned from "Operation Ivy", the H-bomb tests at Eniwetok. The new seamen apprentices were lowered over the side to scrape and paint the ship. When they were pulled up for lunch, the group was asked if anyone could type. Jim's father had advised him not to volunteer for anything; however, he thought typing had to be better than painting. He held up his hand and thus began his path to becoming a yeoman in the V-4 Division of the Air Department. Shortly after the ship returned in June 1954 from their West-Pac cruise as a hunter-killer carrier, Jim received a letter from the Rendova commanding officer commending him for being the only YNSN of seven who was rated on an exam even though he was junior to each of them. He added his appreciation for Jim's going above and beyond the requirements of his duties on a daily basis. He also commended him for being singled out from a thousand men by the Commander Carrier Division Fifteen who was onboard the Rendova for an inspection: "scrutinizing your appearance, uniform and posture most carefully and then commented, 'you are outstanding, everything about you is perfect.'" This letter is part of his permanent record.
In October 1955, the Rendova transferred its home port to Mare Island and then Hunters Point in the San Francisco area as it underwent its decommissioning. During the last couple of months, there were only about 250 officers and sailors remaining with most of the office work in the final days taking place off the ship. Jim had been transferred to "X" Division and was in charge of preparing the records of the remaining crew. These records were put in manila envelopes, sealed with wax and given to the individual to carry to his next duty station. With less than a year remaining of his four years, Jim was assigned to the USS Onslow AVP-48 from which he received his discharge on March 30, 1956. His rank was YN2. He was awarded the Good Conduct, National Defense, Korean Service and United Nations medals for his service.
Returning to South Carolina, Jim married Kathryn Verdery, his Orangeburg High School sweetheart, on June 5, 1956, and began his studies at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, on June 11. After receiving his BA degree in just three years, Jim began his thirty-nine year career in the textile industry , beginning as an Industrial Engineer with Milliken & Co. This took Jim and Kathryn along with their three children to Pacolet Mills, SC; Gainesville, GA; Statesboro, GA; and back to Spartanburg, SC where he retired as Corporate Cost Control Manager with Spartan Mills, Inc., in 1998. He and Kathryn then spent their well-earned free time with music, dancing, family and travel. Their daughter often commented that she did not phone her parents on Saturday night as her teenage parents were out dancing somewhere. Jim shared his love of music with friends by making for them CDs of the top Hit Parade tunes for wedding anniversaries or birthdays. He spent many hours in his workshop creating woodwork projects. The highlight of their travels were to the ECSAA conventions and the Rendova reunions. What a joy it was to share stories with other CVE vets!! One of them commented that each year the bombs got bigger and the storms got worst. The friendships and memories made on these trips were cherished ones. Jim was proud of his service, his country and his membership at Spartanburg American Legion Post 28. His children presented him with a brick on the Commemorative Brick Walk at the post on his last Father's Day in June 2017. After 62 years of marriage, on June 8, 2018, Jim passed away at his home in Roebuck, SC. Surviving were Kathryn, their three children and two grandchildren.
In October 1947, seventeen-year-old Charles Fecay enlisted in the Marines Reserves - discharged Oct 1949.
In 1946, he began boxing, winning his first amateur bantamweight championship title in 1948, and a second in 1950. From 1954 to the present he has been training/coaching teens and young adults, including Emanuel Steward, who won the 1963 national Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions title with Fecay in his corner. Steward also became regarded as the world’s greatest professional trainer, producing the most world champions of all-time. In 1997, Fecay was elected into the Dearborn Recreation Special Award Hall of Fame for his achievements and community work in boxing, and in 2001, received an award from the Metro-Detroit Golden Gloves for Outstanding Official. Today, he is 90 years old and is still giving back to the community as a trainer/coach and advisor at the Detroit Boxing Jungle gym.
In January 1950, Fecay joined the Navy Reserves, called to active duty January 1952, during the Korean War. During his time in the Navy, he spent his time aboard the USS Rendova CVE 114 (a small aircraft carrier) with admirals, scientists and atomic and hydrogen bombs. There were 100 ships (destroyers and cruisers) surrounding his ship to protect it from the enemy. During “Operation Ivy” his ship was anchored out of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, 10 miles from the atomic bomb testing and 30 miles from the hydrogen bomb. After Elugelab was bombed and disappeared, he and his shipmates looked and felt like they had been severely sunburned from the radiation exposure. He was discharged in November 1954.
From 1955 to 1963, Fecay belonged to the Dearborn Jaycee’s, helping run Easter egg hunts for children at Levagood Park and helping families in need.
In the early 1960s, Fecay joined the American Legion in Dearborn, giving out holiday meals to families in need and sick veterans. He was also instrumental in putting on boxing shows at the V.A. hospital in Allen Park.
Around 1970, Fecay and his friend, Russell Gilbert, started the Dearborn Amvets and was active in helping disabled vets and families in need. Fecay was a commander of the Amvets for 6 years.
Fecay currently belongs to the DAV, which passes out blankets to vets at the V.A. hospital in Detroit. He is a 50-year Life Member of the Father Patrick O’Kelly Knights of Columbus, and is also the P.R. for the VFW in Dearborn.
Joseph E. Bolaske, 89,(USS Corregidor) passed away Monday, May 11, 2020 at Harrington Hospital surrounded by love of family. Joe was born February 1, 1931 to the late Joseph and Elvia (Maki) Bolaske. He was a graduate of Springfield Trade and served in the US Navy during the Korean War from 1948-1952. Joe was a master diesel mechanic belonging to local 98 and worked abroad, as well as many years with Tyler Equipment in East Longmeadow. Joe was a member of the Wales Baptist Church, Day Spring Lodge of Masons in Monson, a Melha Shriner, serving for a time as Commander of the Legion of Honor, Wales VFW past Commander and a member of the American Legion Post 130 in Palmer.