Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Honoring Our Heros

 

November 1, 2019 | View PDF



Thomas Daniel Davis ~ 99

Thomas Daniel Davis is a 99 year-old United States veteran who completed 30 years of military service in two branches, namely, the U. S. Navy for 10 years and the U. S. Marine Corps for 20 years. He served in three wars including WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War with multiple tours to Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Davis received the following medals: sixty Good Conduct Medals with Two Stars, the Vietnam Service Medal with Two Stars, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, the National Defense Service Medal with One Star and the WWII Victory Medal.

Davis was born in the Hayneville area of Lowndes County, AL, a rural, low socio-economic area. Having lost his mother at the age of 10, he attended school at Wetumpka, AL, completing the eighth grade there. Davis also received training in vocational agriculture at Tuskegee Institute one summer returning to Montgomery to live with his brother.

In 1939, Davis volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy at the age of 19 after being influenced by an employee at the A.& P. Grocery Store where he was working. He went to the Navy's Boot Camp at Norfolk, VA, where he was trained in food services which he worked in his entire military service. He was sent to San Diego and then to Pearl Harbor on the USS Whitney (AD-4), a Dobbin class destroyer used in repairing other Navy ships. The ship was amid a flotilla of destroyers when the Japanese attacked, but it was undamaged during the attack. Davis was on this ship at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed there. Although his ship was not in the area where ships used in combat were anchored, he recalls seeing the carnage of the destroyed ships. He recalls actually seeing a bomb hit the USS Arizona’s stack exploding the ship in half.

Davis changed branches of service from the U. S. Navy to the U. S. Marine Corps because the Marines begin to allow African-Americans to have opportunities of serving in a variety of areas. After Pearl Harbor, Davis was sent to San Diego and put on a troop transport ship to the Pacific Theater where first-line Marines invaded the Japanese controlled Pacific islands including Guadalcanal. Davis states, “When you see the landing ships carrying Marines and see Marines dying every day in the waters, it’s something to see. I never want to see it again.” He was transferred to Treasure Island in San Francisco followed by an assignment at the Naval gun plant in Pocatello, ID.

In 1950, during the Korean War, he was shipped to Seoul, Korea ,where he had military police duty chasing drunken sailors off the streets and making sure that they returned to their barracks on time. Next came assignments at San Diego, CA, Cherry Point, N.C. and then to Vietnam. He volunteered for service in Vietnam because he wanted to earn and receive his last stripe which he did receive retiring at the rank of E-8 Master Sargeant. When asked by his military friends why he would risk injury by going to Vietnam, Davis told them, “If I survived Pearl Harbor and Korea, I can do Vietnam and a lot more!”

After retiring from military service, he lived in Orange County, CA. He worked in a catering business running it for its owner at Laguna Beach, CA, for three years. He worked in security for apartments for five years. Davis has one son from a previous marriage, and he has been married to Lula Davis for 39 years. He has two step-grandchildren and three step-great-grandchildren. He returned to AL to care for his older brother who was experiencing severe health issues. He and Lula have enjoyed going to their time-share at Orange Beach, AL, and traveling to Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.

Davis’ conclusions about his military service are, "I was able to see places that I would not have gone to and to meet people that I would not have met. It changed my whole world and my dependence on God. When I talk to young people, I tell them to join the military because that's the best way out of life. When you get a job, the first thing that they ask you about is your military service. You may not make it a career, but you may like it." When younger people ask him how he stays so slim, he advises them saying, "Watch what you eat. Push the beer bottles back and go to the gym five days a week." Today Davis expresses thankfulness for having escaped injury or death saying, “I thank God that He spared me through those wars without a scratch. I am truly blessed by Him.”

Carl William Edwards ~ 95

Carl William Edwards is a 95 year-old veteran who served during WWII, the Korean War and later for a total of 20 years including the U. S. Navy, the U.S. Navy Reserve and the U. S. Air Force Reserve. His tours of duty in the Navy were on the USS Sepulga AO-20 (1942-1945) a fleet oiler during WWII, USS Holder DD-819 (1946-1948) a Gearing-class destroyer, and on the USS Delta AR-9 (1950-1952), a San Diego based repair ship during the Korean War. In 2012, Edwards was awarded the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s WWII Southern Cross of Honor Medal by the Jefferson Davis Chapter of Mobile, Alabama. Edwards’ niece proved lineage through his grandfather who served as a Confederate soldier.

Edwards was born to his parents, John and Frances Haynie Edwards, October 16, 1924, in Montgomery, AL, where he was educated until he volunteered to serve in the Navy at age 17 in 1942. He completed Boot Camp with the Navy in San Diego. He advanced from the rank of Navy seaman to Chief Quartermaster. Edwards trained in the field of Chief Quartermaster which consisted of visual communication, navigation, and ship supervision.

Edwards stepped aboard the USS Sepulga on August 12, 1942. While stationed aboard the USS Sepulga during WWII, assignments carried him through the Panama Canal area to the Southeastern Pacific taking part in establishing the first remote fueling station since the outbreak of hostilities located at Bora Bora in the Society Islands. Then he headed north to the Aleutians, St. Paul's Harbor at Kodiak and Dutch Harbor at Unalaska. His ship returned to San Pedro to pick up another load of oil and filled the cargo hold with dynamite. The USS Sepulga then steamed alone to the South-Central Pacific for 25 continuous months of a South-Pacific island-hopping cruise. First, he went to Funifuti in the Ellice Islands, then to Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands where he experienced the first baptism of enemy fire during the air raids still in progress by the Japanese Air Force. Edwards witnessed the sinking of vessels by Japanese Kamikazes. Returning to Funifuti for a short period, he then preceded to Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atoll's in the Marshall Islands and finally to the Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands which eventually became the largest Naval anchorage in the world for a short period of time. His ship was engaged in following and keeping the U. S. Navy’s fleet supplied with fuel, diesel and lubricating oils, fresh water, fueling supplies, plus handling spent brass shell's from the ships of the line that his ship refilled, and then his ship was sent back to the States for re-arming.

Edwards’ Navy service also involved assignments in the European area and the Middle East. While stationed aboard the USS Holder, Edwards sailed to the Mediterranean Sea providing protection to Italy from the Yugoslavian military forces. Afterward, trips were made to Egypt, Saudi Arabia as well as the Caribbean Sea.

While stationed aboard the USS Delta at the end of the Korean Conflict, Edwards, a former Holtville High School athlete, set the pace for his baseball squad in the Naval District West Coast League. As a left-handed pitcher, he would swing from the right at the plate, and he gained quite a reputation playing outfield, first base and pitcher. He accounted for the most runs batted in for the team with a .388 batting average and was tabbed by an mid-west scout as a potential big-timer.

After graduation from Holtville High School in Elmore County, AL, he attended Auburn University for one year. He and his wife, Betty Ann Cobb, were married 68 years before she passed, and they had two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Edwards family has been a member of Millbrook United Methodist Church since 1950.

While serving in the Navy Reserve, Edwards began working as a civil service employee at Maxwell Air Force Base in the vehicle department driving trucks, then working in the print shop and finishing his career with the postal service which required him to have Secret Service Clearance. During his time with the postal service, he represented the 3rd Air Postal Flight, a Maxwell AFB Reserve unit, on the longest training deployment of any reserve unit in Continental Air Command being airlifted to Tachikawa AB, Japan. Edwards retired from the Air Force as Master Sergeant.

After military and Civil Service retirement, he went to work for the City of Montgomery as a supervisor in the maintenance department working 10 years. Since retirement in 1993, Edwards even today is an avid fisherman enjoying fishing on Lake Jordan and Lake Martin, quail hunting, watching baseball games and completing Sudoku puzzles. His favorite saying, "If we meet, and you forget me, you've lost nothing. If you meet Jesus Christ and forget him, you've lost everything".

Edwards reflects upon his military service saying, “I think that I did what I was supposed to do. Serving in the Navy was a learning process, and until then, I had not been anywhere.”

Donald Charles King ~ 85

Donald Charles King served in the United States Air Force for four years. He volunteered for service completing basic training at Lackland A.F.B., CA, followed by a transfer to Kessler A.F.B., Biloxi, MS, where he trained as an airborne radio repairman followed by three tours to the Ernest Harman A.F.B. in Labrador. He did repairs on airborne radios for the TC97, and the B47 aircraft at the Lake Charles Air Force Station, LA. King advanced to the rank of Staff Sergeant in 38 months and was head of the Radio & Radar Shop.

Instead of reenlisting, he used the G.I. Bill to earn a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University. King worked 25 years in New Orleans, LA, working on power-generator systems for petro-chem plants and off-shore drilling companies in the Gulf of Mexico. He then moved to Mobile, AL, doing electrical consulting. Hurricane Katrina wiped out one of his projects causing a submersible platform to hit a bridge. He had professional electrical engineering assignments in Nigeria, Mexico, El Salvador, Bahamas and Canada from 1962 to 2008.

King was born in Madison, WI, February 21, 1935, to his parents, Charles and Lavona. He graduated from Wonewoc High School, and he worked at Rockford, IL, where he worked a boring mill on heavy machinery for one year before volunteering for enlistment.

He and his wife, Connie, had two sons, one daughter and five grandchildren. They enjoyed touring the country as “rock hounds” looking for semi-precious stones that could be cut. They went deep sea fishing and shrimping near New Orleans as well as water skiing. They traveled to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, but they loved Orange Beach, AL.

King’s conclusions about his life are, “I grew up on a dairy farm, went into the service and finished college. My time in the military was spent in air borne radio repair. My wife and I reared all four children who earned advanced degrees. I enjoyed being in the military, and I got to travel a lot. I made a lot of lifetime friends in the military, but I was happy to retire.”

Herman Leroy Naron ~ 83

Herman Leroy Naron served three deployments as an Administration Airman in the United States Air Force. Herman was born near Midway, AK, September 5, 1936, to his parents, Claud and Linnie Naron. His father was a sharecropper in rural AK, and as Herman graduated from Drew Central High School in Monticello he realized that he did not want a life of working in the fields. He therefore joined the U. S. Air Force in 1957 completing his basic training at Lackland A.F.B. TX, and subsequently attended a technical school there where he excelled on a linguistics aptitude test. As a result, Herman was selected to attend a Russian language school in Monterey, California, after which he was sent to Hof, Germany, where he served with a unit that worked with his language specialty and translated the intercepted words of Russian pilots flying MIGS in the area.

Herman was then sent to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. to expand his language training to include German after which he was sent back to Hof where he continued translating enemy messages and where he then met and married Karin Walli Rosa Naron (Prediger) in Vienna, Austria in 1963.

In 1965, Herman was transferred to Sheppard A.F.B. in Texas, and he was deployed to Vietnam for one year where he planned and executed R&R (Rest and Recuperation) trips for the soldiers who were stationed with him. He received the Vietnam Service Medal for his service and was sent back to Germany with his family. He was stationed at the Wasserkuppe A.F.B. monitoring radar for U.S. troop movement and then at Sembach A.F.B. where he served in General Administration. Then, in 1973, Herman was transferred to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Al. for his final assignment working for the Air War College. Herman retired from the Air Force in 1977 and always remarked that “serving my country meant a lot to me.”

Following retirement, Herman decided to further his education using the G.I. Bill, during which time he worked during the day for the Veterans Administration and studied at night toward his Business Degree in Business Administration with an Accounting major. Following his graduation and until his final retirement in 1995, Herman worked as an accountant at American Sterilizer in Montgomery.

Herman and his wife, Karin, had two daughters and two grandchildren with whom he enjoyed spending time once he retired. He also enjoyed playing golf, bridge and travelling.

Harry Ural Jackson, Jr. ~ 93

Harry Ural Jackson, Jr. is a WWII Navy veteran who served on a submarine chaser three weeks off the coast of Normandy during and after the D-Day landing. Jackson was awarded the following combat ribbons and medals: American Theater of War, European Theater of War with One Battle Star for Normandy Invasion, Asian Theater of War, China Service and Victory Medal.

Jackson was born November 22, 1925, in Baconton, GA, to his parents, Harry and Carrie Jackson, living there until age 14 when his family moved to Cuthbert, GA, where he finished high school. In 1943 on his18th birthday, he volunteered and enlisted in the U. S. Navy. Jackson’s eight weeks at Boot Camp were at the U. S. Naval Station at Great Lakes, IL. He was selected for duty on a submarine chaser and sent to Key West, FL, for six weeks for sonar school to learn to detect under water vessels graduating at the rank of Third Class Petty Officer.

Jackson was assigned to the U.S.S. Submarine Chaser 1330 at Mayport, FL, to operate the sonar detection equipment, and then the ship and crew went to the Navy Yard at Brooklyn, N.Y. where the vessel was prepared for combat. As the crew boarded the USS Amsterdam for a five day voyage to the port at the mouth of the River Firth, near Glasgow, Scotland, each was given an American Red Cross comfort kit in a cloth bag tied with a drawstring containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razor blades and a Gideon Bible. The crew remained for a week at the English Navy base traveling by train to Liverpool, England to board his sub chaser. For five days, his sub chaser was anchored in Dartmouth Harbor, Dartmouth, England, waiting for the invasion in Europe to begin, and on June 3, 1944, the roads leading down to the ferry landing on both sides of the Dart River were lined with tanks and trucks waiting to drive into the Landing Ship Tanks (LST), the vessels used to support amphibious operations to carry tanks, vessels, cargo and landing troops directly on to shore where no docks or piers were available.

On June 5th, just before the sub chaser’s captain ordered the ship to set special sea detail and prepare to get underway, the captain said, “At ease. Uncover.” The crew relaxed a little, removed their hats and listened as the captain read the 23rd Psalm from the Bible and led them in the Lord’s Prayer. At 17:45 hours, the sub chaser cast off and proceeded out of the harbor to sea moving into the English Channel. The assignment was to take a position on the starboard flank to lead a convoy of a double row of Landing Craft Infantry (LCI’s), the amphibious assault ships used to transport large numbers of infantry on to beaches. The sub chaser was headed to Normandy for the invasion. Although Jackson was afraid, he had a feeling that he was going to make it back as he remembers recalling the Bible’s words, “I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” All during the night of June 4th and the early morning of June 5th, Jackson’ battle station’s assignment was to monitor the sonar and radar watching for German submarines, U-boats, alternating every half hour with another technician to ensure top efficiency.

At daybreak on D-Day, the crew could see the hills of the French shoreline. The first ships encountered were six American PT boats returning rapidly from a mission on the Normandy shore heading back to England. At 0550 hours, Jackson recalls that three American battleships, several cruisers and many destroyers began firing their guns at the beaches and Pointe du Hoc, a 100 ft. cliff overlooking the English Channel on the coast of Normandy. As the bombardment ended, landing craft with the troops and some tanks headed onto the beaches to go ashore at 0630 hour. Jackson’s sub chaser was assigned to guide LCT’s carrying tanks onto Green Beach at Utah Beach.

Jackson’s combat experience included seeing ships being destroyed and Americans being killed. He witnessed the sinking of the LCT 777 which had hit a mine leaving the water full of dead and wounded men and four Army tanks. Jackson states, “I was not prepared for this sight of the dead and dying and the sound of the cries for help almost got me. My knees buckled, and I would have fallen had I not reached the lifeline that runs around the deck. After a couple of seconds, my training took over, and I reached for a life ring with rope attached and threw it to a soldier on the port side of the ship. He failed to grab it, and I stood helplessly as I watched him slowly sink below the surface with his eyes still open looking at me.” Jackson was successful in rescuing another soldier by throwing out the life ring. According to the ship’s log, by 0955 hours, nine survivors had been taken aboard, and at 1100 hours, survivors were discharged onto the U.S.S. Dickman. At 2245 hours, the last entry for D Day read, “Dropped starboard anchor in 12 fathoms off Utah Beach, Normandy, France. Let out 52 fathoms of chain.”

Although the Longest Day was over, Jackson’ service at Normandy did not stop there. Jackson’s sub chaser remained off the beaches of Normandy for 21 days. His vessel responded to Red Alert whenever German planes came at night to drop mines, which were the greatest danger for his ship. He could see the searchlights from the larger ships weaving back and forth across the dark sky, hear the 5” anti-aircraft shells exploding and see the streams of tracer bullets from the smaller guns climbing into the clouds. Looking up into all of that din, fury and death, Jackson whispered, “Lord, are you up there tonight, too?”

Finally, orders were received to leave the Normandy shores. On June 26th, his sub chaser was assigned to screen a convoy going back to England, and it sailed back to the Dartmouth Harbor on the Dartmouth River. The crew was given a three-day leave. Before going on leave, Jackson chose to go off by himself, rowing in the ship’s dinghy, a small lifeboat, up the Dart River finding peace, quiet and solitude that he desperately needed above the tidewater in a scenic place with willows on each side. There he recalled the words from Psalms 23, “He restoreth my soul.” His ship continued service patrolling near Cherbourg, France, until December, 1944.

Jackson’s Phase One service in WWII concluded when he sailed on the passenger liner, the Queen Elizabeth, along with 2000 other G.I.’s going home. He recalls sailing up the East River towards N.Y.C. passing the Statue of Liberty. Jackson states, “I looked up at that great monument, and it was blurred because I was looking through tears, and at that moment, I realize that I needed to do what I was doing.”

Jackson’s Second Phase of WWII Service began after Jackson and his crew were given three days leave in N.Y.C. and then an additional 30 days leave which he used to visit his family in GA. His last assignment was for service on the PC1171, a submarine chaser carrying 60 men and five officers and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns headed for Japan for an invasion. The plan was for his ship to get between the Japanese shore and the American ships and to shoot down the kamikazes before they could attack the American ships. He sailed to Miami, FL, through the Panama Canal, to San Diego and then to Pearl Harbor under the command of Cin CPAC; however, the second Atomic bomb was dropped on Japan followed by its surrender while the ship was sailing between San Diego and Pearl Hawaii. When he heard the Japanese had surrendered, Jackson went down to his bunk and cried. The next assignment was to escort a double column of LST’s to Sasebo, Japan for 23 days. His ship experienced a typhoon and sailed into the Yellow Sea that was filled with mines of which many were destroyed by his ship. Jackson sailed to Shanghai, China, and to Guam. His Victory Plus Six Months (V-6) Navy commitment was nearing an end, and he headed for home sailing to Treasure Island at San Francisco. He traveled via troop train to Jacksonville, FL, where he was officially discharged May 28, 1946.

After his military service, using the G.I. Bill, Jackson enrolled at Georgia Tech for a brief time followed by graduation from North Georgia College with a B.S. Degree in business education. Instead of teaching in high schools, his employment involved working in banks for 47 years beginning as teller progressing to loan officer, chief executive officer and president. He worked at First National Bank of Auburn, AL, for five years, at the Warrenton Bank, in Warrenton, FL, for six months, at Commercial Bank and Trust Co. in Griffin, GA, for two years, at Peoples Bank in Carrville, AL, for 37 years and at the Bank of Tallassee for 2.5 years.

Jackson and his wife, Shirley Chamblis, have been married 71 years, and they have nine children including seven daughters and two sons, 22 grand-

children, and 20 great-grandchildren. Since retirement from banking, he has continued to enjoy participating in the activities of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, fishing and playing dominoes with friends and family. He has also been supportive of his wife’s ministry as the choral director of adult and youth choirs at churches.

Jackson’s conclusions about war are, “Some of the things that I have seen and heard in this country during the years since my war service have made me wonder if every generation should have its war and have to take part in it. That generation would more fully understand and better appreciate this great country in which we live and the freedoms that we enjoy. Better yet, each one would know that great feeling, that since of pride that come with knowing that you have literally laid your life, your most precious possession, on the line and done your part to keep this country great and to keep it free. I laid my life on the line for my country because I wanted to leave it a free society.”

Jesse C. Perkins ~ 87

Jesse C. Perkins served as an Air Policeman (AP) in the U. S. Air Force for over 14 years; today the AP is called Security Police. He was born July 18, 1932, to his parents, Eddie M. Perkins and Sarah Lou Gregory Perkins in Morehead, KY, and after 13 years his family moved to Hillsboro, Ohio, where he was reared. After employment with Frigidaire of Dayton, OH, Crosley Corporation of Richmond, IN, and Great Lakes Steel of Detroit, MI, he volunteered to serve in the U. S. Air Force. On June 14, 1951, he reported for duty at Ft. Wayne, MI, completing Basic Training at Sampson Air Force Base at Lake Seneca, N.Y., followed by 15 weeks of Combat Military Police training and the Provost Marshall General School at Camp Gordon, GA, which today is Fort Gordon.

His service as an Air Policeman took him to Air Force bases in the Pacific Ocean area as well as to bases within the nation. His first assignment was at March, AFB, in CA followed by a tour of duty in Guam where the first nuclear weapons outside the United States were kept. Perkins was stationed there for the remainder of the Korean War where seven Boeing B-50 Superfortresses were uploaded and downloaded daily with nuclear bombs until the Korean War ended. He was assigned to Lincoln AFB in Lincoln, NE, in June 1954, where he helped reactivate the base as the home for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-57 bombers. He helped write the first guideline, Broken Arrow, which gave instructions in case of a nuclear accident. Although he heard about two such accidents, nothing exploded. His next assignment was at Okinawa at a nuclear storage site and then to Columbus, MS, where he helped reactivate the 4228 Strategic Wing (SAC) with Boeing B-52 bombers. In December, 1955, Perkins received orders to go to Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, to set up security for a fighter unit, but he went to Maxwell A.F.B, Montgomery, AL, for an overseas physical. He developed problems with varicose veins, and after multiple surgeries and evaluations by a physical evaluation team, he was retired with a 60% disability May 7, 1966.

Perkins’ reflections on his military service are, “I intended serving 30 years in the Air Force and achieving the rank of Chief Master Sargeant of the Air Force. I was dedicated in serving at the highest position that I could. I could not have done any better. All of my commanders always commended me. I was selected as the Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Second Air Force in 1961 and 1962. My unit received an Outstand Unit Citation Award for excellent work in activating the AFB at Columbus, MS, for the B-52 bombers to be used for carrying nuclear weapons. I received a Good Conduct medal, and I was promoted from Private to Technical Sargeant during my service career. I have always honored service to others, and I think that it is a glorious thing. I really do! It is not just serving yourself. You are serving your nation which is the greatest nation on earth.”

After discharge, Perkins resumed his education. He passed his GED, and he received an Associate Degree in Bible from Faulkner University followed by graduation with a B. S. Degree in Secondary Education from Huntingdon College teaching one semester at Lanier High School. Perkins received a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Therapy and Audiology from Auburn University. He practiced in his own clinic, Montgomery Center for Communication Disorder for two years. Perkins then worked at the AL State Rehabilitation Center as the staff audiologist for two years followed by working with a Montgomery ENT specialist testing patients for 11 years. He then worked for the AL Dept. of Mental Health at the J. S. Tarwater Development Center in Wetumpka, AL. retiring in 2003.

Perkins was married to his first wife, Beverly Jean Hart, for 53 years until she passed away, and they had three children, five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. His second wife, Donna, and he have been married 11 years. When he was in the military, he learned how to weld and to do carpentry work. During retirement, Perkins has remodeled houses, fished and traveled to 48 states, and he has been a member of the Montgomery Rotary Club. Perkins has served as an elder and a preacher from 1956-2017 with the Church of Christ, and he has performed over 400 weddings and 300 funerals.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 10/20/2020 07:26