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Peary Morris - 1924-2002,  USN (Retired, 1941-1960), WWII, Korea. Known ships: USS Pennsylvania (BB38), (Ships Unknown late 1942 till May or June 1944), USS Bismarck Sea (CVE) sunk Iwo Jima 1945, USS Bon Homme Richard (CV31) Korean War, USS Ranger (CV61), USS Platt (AO24). Shore duties were, Naval Air Station (Blimps) Moffett Field CA, Asst Fire Chief Sangley Point Naval Air Station Philippines,  Naval Air Station Alameda CA (Retirement Station).  My father never showed me his war records but I pieced together some of it from my uncles and his service ribbons and awards.  Even now I am not sure what happened to him in 1943 but combined with the loss of so many of his shipmates on the Bismarck Sea, it haunted him for the rest of his life. 

My father joined the Navy on November 18 1941 as the age of 17.  He was in training at Great Lakes when Pearl Harbor occurred.  He told me several stories about WWII but there were somethings he saw that he refused to talk about.  The following is what I was told and so there may be missing pieces which I would like to learn more about.

I do know that his training was cut short and he was sent to the Pacific to join the USS Pennsylvania, which had been in dry dock and although damaged it was repaired and put to sea as soon as they could.  He ended up striking for a BM rating which pretty much had him at sea for 3 years on several ships.  He was part of a number of campaigns in the Solomon’s (Bougainville) and  Mariana’s (Saipan), Philippines (Luzon)as well as Iwo Jima.  His last ship was the Bismarck Sea CVE95 which sunk East of Iwo Jima.  Until he died he blamed the Captain of another CVE for bringing the Japanese Kamikaze to them.  (I know that there were two CVEs on combat air watch, I but I don’t know what their disposition was at the time of the attacks.)  The Bismarck Sea had only a light screen of destroyers, while the other carrier had larger contingent of 4 or 5 destroyers including destroyer escorts.  There were several aircraft fully armed and fueled on the flight deck being readied for launch as well as below on the hanger deck.  The forward hit by a Kamikaze (Zeke) set off explosions where he was protected by the island structure.  The second hit was a Betty that hit just below the portside flight deck and just aft of the aft elevator and damaged the flight and hanger decks as well as damaging the engine room setting off large explosions that doomed the ship.  He was standing and aircraft watch on the starboard side of the island above the bridge.  (I suspect he was on the aft side of the bridge to have seen the second aircraft)  The second Kamikaze sent shrapnel his way and one piece was stuck in the bone above his right eye.  When abandon ship was called he had to go over the side from his station as everything below him was either damaged or on fire.  That was some 60 feet to the water.  He developed a real hatred for the Japanese as they made strafing runs on the sailors in the water until it was too dark to see them. He lost a lot of his known bunk and shipmates when the ship sank.  He was rescued by a DE the next morning after some 12 hours in the water.  He watched the ship sink as well as further attacks on the DE/DD and the remaining CVE.  He wouldn’t be more specific about the other aircraft carrier – not sure why.  The night hours were the most stressing as there were sharks in the area. 

I don’t have confirmation on the strafing but given that the Japanese did that at Peral it is not hard to believe. 

As I have noted this was what he remembered and he didn’t tell me until 2001 about 8 months before he passed.  If there is more detailed or different information I would like to get it as I am putting together the story of my family.  My uncles (father’s side) all were in the Navy (one a PO1 BM and two were PO1 GMs) serving in the Pacific.  My mother (June E. Morris) served as a civilian LN at San Diego Naval Station form June 44 to October of 45.  My uncles (mother’s side) were all Army serving in the European theater including Sicily, Italy, France (D-Day) and of course Germany.  After boot camp and technical training I served in the western Pacific 1966-1967 and Tactical Air Command 1967-1968.


Russ Morris

Frank Berg was born in Council Bluffs, on August 1, 1924. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and enlisted in the Navy, serving in World War 2 on the USS Sangamon. After returning from the war, Frank trained as a Union carpenter making the trade a lifelong career. In 1945, Frank married Velma Petersen and to this union three daughters were born. Following his retirement, Frank worked as ranger at the Dodge Riverside Golf Course. Joining in 1973, Frank was the oldest member of the Council Bluffs YMCA and volunteered countless hours there as well as at Mohm’s Place. Frank was a member of the Council Bluffs Fish & Game Club and the American Legion Post 2. He enjoyed fishing and hunting with his friends and watching his grandchildren and great grandchildren participate in many sports and activities.

Frank Kilduff USN 1943-1946 USS Kasaan Bay Age 97

I would very much like to honor my Father in Law, Hon. John J Connelly who served on USS Siboney, CVE 112, 1944-1945. Pacific Fleet, Leyte Gulf. 8/11/26-6/11/2018

Thomas C. Ahern enlisted in the U.S. Navy in January 1942 serving aboard the USS Long Island (CVE-1) during WWII. He continued his service to his country until his retirement in November 1966. Tom served with pride and satisfaction for over 23 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer.

William Smedley - Upon graduating high school in 1943, Bill entered the U. S. Navy and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Card, where he served as an aviation machinist mate. His unit was awarded the first ever Presidential Unit Citation for its role in the submarine warfare in the North Atlantic.

Arthur Henry Strass, 91, of Crystal Lake, formerly of Woodstock, passed away peacefully at JourneyCare Hospice in Woodstock on Saturday, July 14, 2018. He was born on September 4, 1926 in Chicago to Henry and Barbara (nee Schneider) Strass.  Mr. Strass was a veteran serving in the Navy on the Aircraft Carrier USS Suwannee (CVE-27) in the Asiatic Pacific during WWII. He received the Victory Medal, 2 Star Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon Star (President Truman).

Peary Morris
Frank Berg
Frank Kilduff
John Connelly
Thomas Ahern
William Smedley
Arthur Strass
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