Garland Crawford - Born in Flower Mound, Texas, on August 27, 1921. His father, grandfather, and great grandfather had been farmers in Denton County. He graduated from Lewisville High School in 1939. After the war began, he and four friends enlisted in the navy. He did his boot training in Great Lakes and then on to Memphis for ordnance and radar training. Next gunnery training at Pensacola before the VC-4 squadron in Seattle in September 1943. On the White Plains, he was an aviation ordnance man and served as turret gunner on a TBM (torpedo bomber).
He married Doris Allen, a Lewisville girl, on November 3, 1945. Discharged from the Navy in February 1946 and returned home to begin his career as a farmer. He has two daughters, two grandsons and two great granddaughters.
My father John E McGrath Jr Aviation machinist mate first class with Squadron VC 42, ball turret gunner in an Avenger oh, the picture is of himself in the ball turret while on patrol. VC 42 flew off of the USS Bogue, USS Shamrock Bay, USS Corregidor. Dad also served with VC 13 flying off the USS Core I believe.
My grandfather, Jesse Leedom EM C2, onboard the Natoma Bay. He served on the Natoma Bay from 1942-1945.
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.
My Dad Lonnis L Wilson USS Kitkun Bay 1944-1946
My Dad so loved his service. My children's favorite memories of him are the stories he shared while he was on the ship. He was so proud to have served. Most of my family have served in the Navy. My 91 year old uncle in WWII, my brother in Vietnam and so many uncles. One of my uncles was in the ocean for three days after his ship sank. So many stories. I also had an uncle who was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. All Navy.
After the surrender his ship went to Japan and transported POW’s back to California.
John Smith enlisted in the US Navy at 17 and served in World War II aboard the USS Salamaua CVE96 in the South Pacific. He was proud that his ship was anchored behind the USS Missouri as the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay
Anthony Potochniak - Anthony was a veteran of WWII and survived the sinking of his ship, the USS GAMBIER BAY CVE-73, at the battle of Leyte Gulf October 25, 1944.
George Spevacek, USS White Plains, Born January 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. Attended grade school in Cicere, Illinois, and graduated from J. S. Morton High School in 1936. After two years at Morton Jr. College, worked at a small arms plant in St. Louis. In 1943, he joined the navy and did his boot camp at Great Lakes and then was assigned to Camp Shoemaker in California. From there on to the south Pacific aboard an oil carrying ship and finally his assignment to the USS White Plains. Was aboard the White Plains from 1944 until the ship was decommissioned in Boston. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf he was with a damage control unit located in the forward mess hall. We were down below and had no idea what was going on topside – just enough knowledge to be somewhat afraid. After the war he married and hooked up with General Electric Corporation for a 39 year relationship.
Homer Roos - Joined the Navy in 1941 at the age of 17. On December 7, 1941, he was in radio school at San Diego. Two days later, he was taken to the edge of North Island and assigned a foxhole complete with a 50 caliber machine gun. His orders were, “If you see anything move on the beach, point the gun in that direction and pull the trigger.”
Battle of Leyte Gulf – “My station that day was in the communications office. I was on the ship-to-ship circuit and it was my job to record every transmission. Stan Sumara came into the office several times during the battle as his station was on the nearby signal bridge. He was the first to coin the statement, “they are shooting at us in technicolor.” During the battle the radio officer told me in the event we had to abandon ship. I was to stay with him to help destroy the cryptographic machines and coding wheels. I was glad I never had to carry out that order.
John Mullarkey Jr proudly served in the United States Navy during World War II protecting the Pacific Coast on the Goodyear Blimp from Japanese submarines and later serving on the USS Sitkoh Bay in the South Pacific.
Ralph Houseman was born to this life on July 29, 1916 in La Porte, Indiana. His earliest memories were of horse drawn carriages, Model T Fords and silent movies. During the height of the Great Depression, the family settled in Milwaukee, WI. Ralph graduated from Washington High School in 1933. He pursued his passion for journalism by enrolling in the College of Journalism at Marquette University then decided on a career in law. Ralph was an accomplished public speaker and a member of the Marquette intercollegiate debate team. He was involved in politics and, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, an active member of the American First Committee. In 1939, at the age of 22, he graduated from Marquette's School of Law and began the practice of law in the then rural hamlet of Grafton, WI. When war broke out, Ralph answered the call to service and joined the United States Navy. In the navy, he trained at Columbia University and Harvard Business School. Ralph served with honor as a Second Lieutenant on board the USS Bogue CVE9, an aircraft carrier that engaged in anti-submarine and convoy duty. He served in the North Atlantic and the Pacific; then joined the Occupation Forces in Japan. Ralph was discharged when the war ended and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.
I enlisted in the United States Navy June 7, 1943. I was a Seaman first class on the USS Sangamon. It was a ship that was commissioned, decommissioned and re-designated many times. In July 1943, The Sangamon shifted her base of operation from Efate to Espiritu Santo in August. In September, she returned to the United States for an overhaul at Mare Island. Then on October 19th, we departed San Diego, embarked and sailed for Espiritu Santo. On the 20th, we arrived in the Gilbert Islands to support Tarawa. Our next operation was the assault on Kwajalein in Marshall Islands. At 4:51 on the 25th, during a routine flight operation a returning fighter failed to hook a wire on landing, breaking through the barriers. It belly tanked, tore loose, skidded forward, spewing flaming fuel. Fire soon spread among the planes. By 4:59, it was under control. Seven crew members were lost in those 8 minutes. From January 31 until mid-February, Sangamon supported the assault and occupation of Kwajalein. We departed the Marshalls and headed back to Pearl Harbor to complete repairs.
After the battle of the Philippines Sea, the Sangamon was detached from TF 53. From July 13 to August 1, 1944, we covered the bombardment groups engaged in the capture of Guam. September 9th, we departed Seeadler Harbor to Morotai. Prior to the October landings on Leyte, Sangamon launched regular flights. On October 20th, planes covered the landing forces and the ships in the transport areas. That same day we came under enemy attack and took a hit at the main deck level. It tore a two by six foot section of plating loose. During the intense fighting, several of the crew were injured, one killed by strafing fire. November 3 we anchored in Seeadler Harbor. Six days later we headed back to the United States for a shipyard overhaul at Bremerton Washington. Mid-February, the CVE arrived in Hawaiian waters. March 5 we continued west; and on the 16th, arrived at Ulithi. We were assigned to the initial assault phase of operation “Iceberg” the invasion of the Ryukyus. On the 21st, we left Ulithi. On May 4th, the Sangamon put into Kerama Retto to rearm. At 6:30, the CVE got underway. Japanese attackers, however, were soon reported only 29 miles away. At 7:30, the kamikaze dropped bombs, crashing into the center of the flight deck, the fires were out of control. By 10:30, all fires were contained, and we had reestablished communication with other units. At 11:43, The Sangamon had 11 dead, 25 missing and 21 seriously wounded. We were then sent to Kerama Retto, from there we arrived in Norfolk where the Sangamon was decommissioned October 24, 1945.
I was discharged from the Navy, February 12, 1946. In later years I found myself trying to keep in touch with my service comrades being involved in the VFW. During that time I found most service men unwilling to speak about those years. Maybe a survivors gilt? I survived the May 4, 1945, kamikaze attack at Okinawa and 16 years later to the day you were born May 4, 1961. All the Birthday’s and I never said anything about that date. I should have told my story to my kids sooner, but as you know time gets in the way. I am glad you and Bud had a chance to listen to my story.
We should never forget our service and our history.