WWII Veterans

Last week marked the anniversary of D-Day, when American troops stormed the beaches at Normandy during World War II. The organization Honor Flight flies veterans to Washington, D.C. at no cost to them to visit war memorials. With each passing year there are fewer WWII vets to participate.

Now 97, Navy Veteran Recalls 1941 Attack On Pearl Harbor

Dec 7, 2018
Naval History and Heritage Command / USDoN

Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Don Long was alone on an anchored military seaplane in the middle of a bay across the island from Pearl Harbor when Japanese warplanes started striking Hawaii on December 7, 1941, watching from afar as the bombs and bullets killed and wounded thousands.

NPS Photo

The “day that will live in infamy” – December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day – will be commemorated during an 11 a.m. service today at the Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, 3602 U.S. Highway 301 N. in Tampa.

The 75th Anniversary Remembrance will honor U.S. military service members who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The event will include presentations by:

·        LeRoy Collins, III, son of Rear Adm. LeRoy Collins, Jr.

·        Gen. James Dozior, U.S. Army, Retired

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You can't hear the story of combat veteran Leonard (Mr. Steve) Stevens without learning about the woman he calls his body guard. Their stories are now deeply connected.

As connected as the 95-year-old is to his blue ball cap that reads: "WWII Combat Glider Pilot."

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The toughest writing assignment 16-year-old Konner Ross will have this year is to write a eulogy for a young man she’s never met. But there’s a part of him the Largo High School junior never forget – his green eyes.

“They have his wallet from when they found it on the beach and on his identification card, it says (he has) green eyes and brown hair,” Ross said. “I didn't know he had green eyes until then. So, that seems like something small, but it was really cool to learn for some reason.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

If you can’t attend a Veteran’s Day parade or ceremony this Wednesday, there is something else you can do to honor a veteran.

The Library of Congress is hoping civilians will help gather veterans’ stories and then submit their recordings to the Veterans’ History Project.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week, the Tampa Bay region lost one of its more notable World War II veterans, retired Judge John Germany. He served as an Army tank commander at age 22 and helped liberate a concentration camp on the German-Austrian border before being sent to the Pacific theater.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

More than 70 years after being exposed to mustard gas at boot camp – a World War II veteran’s claim for VA benefits is being reconsidered.

It was not until 1991 that the Department of Defense declassified information on its mustard gas experiments using U.S. soldiers and sailors in training.

Veteran John Tedesco was exposed to mustard gas in January 1944 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station along with some of his buddies from his hometown of Erie, PA.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week, NPR has revealed that the U.S. military conducted chemical weapons experiments on American soldiers and sailors during World War II.

It also found the Veterans Administration did little to help the thousands of veterans exposed to mustard gas.

East Lake High School

The voices of 31 Pinellas County high school students soared above the cliffs at Omaha Beach in France on Tuesday.

The East Lake High School choir members were invited 15 months ago to help commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  WUSF reported last week how the choir, under the direction of Robert Knabel, practiced three times a week for a year and raised $164,000 to pay for the trip.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There will be many tributes and memorial services over the next week to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Among those marking the historic battle will be 31 young voices from Pinellas County.

Their East Lake High School choir was invited to travel to France to sing as part of the commemoration. The choir leaves this Sunday, June 8, 2014, and will perform several concerts next week in France.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A World War II veteran of Iwo Jima and recipient of the Medal of Honor is counting on hundreds of teenage boys at a Tampa public school to honor his dream.

Marine Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams’ vision is to build a memorial in every state honoring Gold Star families, the spouses, parents, children and extended family members of military men and women who have been killed in combat.

Nathan Powell / WUSF

The Liberty Foundation invited members of the media to Tampa Executive airport to get the chance of a lifetime to fly in a Boeing B-17 that was used in the movie "Memphis Belle."

This P-51 Mustang will be available for rides at Tampa Executive Airport this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, rides will be open to the public at the airport, located near the Florida State Fairgrounds.

If that's a bit steep for your wallet, there will be be free ground tours in the afternoon.

Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes

World War II veterans on an Honor Flight from Mississippi pushed their way through barricades to visit Washington, D.C. memorials Tuesday, the first day of the federal government shutdown, according to the Stars and Stripes.

Imagine fighting in World War II, surviving four years as a Prisoner of War at camps in Japan and China only to have the U.S. Military lose your records.

Lost paperwork is not uncommon in the military especially if those records date back to World War II when everything was typed with carbon copies.

But that is the reason why 94-year-old McPherson Plecker never received the nine medals earned during his Navy service from 1940-1946.

The Navy Fireman First Class served on the destroyer, USS Schley (DD 103) and volunteered to go to Wake Island.

So far, more than 700 veterans from Central Florida, many from World War II, have been treated to a day in Washington D.C. touring the memorials.

The 11th Honor Flight for West Central Florida returns tonight (Tuesday) at 8:30 at the St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport carrying some 80 WWII veterans.

The public is invited to come out and give the honorees a true "hero's welcome home." The celebration is planned at the baggage claim facility.

Department of Defense

If you live in the Tampa Bay region and have a free Tuesday (April 16, 2013) evening, you’re invited to be a part of the welcome home crowd at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, 14700 Terminal Blvd, Clearwater.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the West Central Florida Honor Flight is scheduled to return after a full day in Washington D.C. where 80 WWII veterans and their escorts visited memorials that honor their military service.

Tampa Bay Times archives

Former Tampa Bay Times editor and civil rights advocate Eugene Patterson died this past weekend at the age of 89 after being treated for cancer.

Patterson was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and columnist.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A World War II veteran from Sarasota whose account of liberating Holocaust victims from a Nazi train led to reunions with the survivors 60 years later died Monday at his home.

Carrol Walsh,  a retired New York judge, was 91.

Walsh and other American soldiers liberated 2,500 Jewish concentration camp prisoners from a Nazi train at the end of World War II.

His story was posted on a website his friend Matthew Rozell created for the history class he teaches at Hudson Falls High School in upstate New York.

Tampa native Sam Gibbons was 24 years old the night before D-Day when he dropped into German-occupied France as a young captain of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles.”

The former Florida lawmaker and 16-term member of the U.S. Congress died at age 92, peacefully, in his sleep.

In Gibbons' memoir I Was There - he described his experiences in WWII. It is peppered with details like how he replaced his gas mask with two cans of Schlitz beer before the D-Day drop.