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The PJ Tatler

by
Scott Ott

Bio

May 26, 2014 - 5:09 pm

I met an 88-year-old man named Frank today, Memorial Day, at a department store. He was helping his wife shop for clothing. He wore a cap that said “USS California BB-44” and a matching polo shirt. I walked over and shook his hand and thanked him for his service. While our wives were in the fitting room, he told me some of his story.

Enlisted at age 17 in 1944, Frank was deployed on the California as a gunner after some sailors were killed and injured in a collision with the USS Tennessee. The California was originally commissioned in 1921, and she was at her moorings at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked. She sank.

Unbelievably, they raised her, towed her to Bremerton, Washington, gave her a complete rehab and upgrade, and put her back into service.

I told Frank that my Pop had been part of the Normandy invasion force and fought through the Battle of the Bulge, then he and his brother Bud waited in Paris for orders to ship out for the invasion of Japan (which, mercifully, never came thanks to the atomic bomb).

Frank said, “I’ve got a lot of respect for those men at Normandy.” Later, when I mentioned my great uncle Horace had been a veteran of the Korean War, Frank said he was grateful for what those men did.

He told me that in recent years the Navy built a submarine and named it in honor of the USS California, and Frank got to sit in the front row when they commissioned her. (The original battle boat was scrapped in 1959 and, Frank says, got used in the nuclear bomb tests at Enewetok atoll.)

I did my best to express my deep gratitude what Frank did for us all. He was kind, and humble in response.

Sunday at church, we did our annual Memorial Day service, to which we invite active-duty and veteran military personnel. At the reception afterward, I went around the room and spoke with as many of the older vets as I could. I didn’t meet any WWII vets. The old guys are now the Korea vets.

When my Pop was a boy, he said they still had some Civil War vets who would visit schools and ride in parades. I was awestruck.

Someday, I’ll tell my grandchildren that we still had World War II and Korea vets around when I was young. They will marvel.

[NOTE: Any factual or historical errors in this little piece can be attributed to my own poor memory, not Frank's.]

Scott Ott co-hosts a news, commentary and humor show called Trifecta on PJTV. He created and hosted the 20-part series on the Constitution titled Freedom's Charter. His satire site, ScrappleFace, spawned three books and praise from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and many others.

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Top Rated Comments   
Brother was in the navy in the Pacific on the USS Menard. Only real story he told was being relieved on watch about 15 minutes before Japanese attack. The person who relieved him on the gun emplacement was killed. Oh, he also told about three other guys and him jumping ship in Hiroshima to view the place. Got a dose of radiation for his efforts. Two brothers-in-law were in Europe. One was in the group that rescued Bastogne Belgium. Other one was at Normandy. Nephew was in navy off Viet Nam. I was in Thailand three times (not permitted to go to Viet Nam). Another nephew was munitions technician for B-52's on Guam during Viet Nam. I've very proud of what each of them did and survived. I lost a lot of friends in Viet Nam. It hard to remember them without some tears.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two granddads fought in Europe, two granduncles died on the Arizona. May God forever bless that generation. My cousin fought and was wounded in 'Nam. I volunteered and never fought. Today's vets are just as great as my grandfathers.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
While working as a night stocker in our local walmart here in SW Okieland I had the honor of meeting an Arizona crewman and later an Oklahoma crewman ca 2007. Who knew you'd find Navy guys out here at the corner of No and Where streets?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (4)
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Brother was in the navy in the Pacific on the USS Menard. Only real story he told was being relieved on watch about 15 minutes before Japanese attack. The person who relieved him on the gun emplacement was killed. Oh, he also told about three other guys and him jumping ship in Hiroshima to view the place. Got a dose of radiation for his efforts. Two brothers-in-law were in Europe. One was in the group that rescued Bastogne Belgium. Other one was at Normandy. Nephew was in navy off Viet Nam. I was in Thailand three times (not permitted to go to Viet Nam). Another nephew was munitions technician for B-52's on Guam during Viet Nam. I've very proud of what each of them did and survived. I lost a lot of friends in Viet Nam. It hard to remember them without some tears.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
It should be noted that the raised and refitted USS California was in the Battle line that devastated the "Southern Force" of Imperial Japan's Battle of the Philippine Sea in Oct. of 1944. For the members of TAFFY III the next day would be brutal but a display of American men at arms, the Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is epic and should be a film, get on it!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two granddads fought in Europe, two granduncles died on the Arizona. May God forever bless that generation. My cousin fought and was wounded in 'Nam. I volunteered and never fought. Today's vets are just as great as my grandfathers.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
While working as a night stocker in our local walmart here in SW Okieland I had the honor of meeting an Arizona crewman and later an Oklahoma crewman ca 2007. Who knew you'd find Navy guys out here at the corner of No and Where streets?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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