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Topic: Weevee casualty who survived after all, USS West Virginia survivor's tale< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Don Kehn, Jr. Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2005,4:24  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello all:

  About 11 years ago, during an annual reunion held each summer in Texas for survivors of the Lost Battalion (2nd reg. 131st Field Artillery, TX Natl guard) and USS HOUSTON (CA30), I was engaged in conversation with some friends, NOK, & survivors when I noticed a familiar face from childhood standing nearby...My brother's college-era girlfriend, and with her a white-haired gentleman, evidently her father.  We exchanged greetings and found that they had a friend in the Lost Battalion & so had decided to attend the Reunion also.  Turned out my brother's friend's father was a much more interesting character himself than I had ever realized:  as a crewmember of USS WEST VIRGINIA at PH, he had been severely injured during the attack(s), and presumed dead in the chaos & confusion following Dec. 7th...His family in Waco so notified.  The local paper ran his death notice and a mass was held...but, lo & behold, some days (or weeks) later he was located in hospital with a skull full of stitches.  One can only imagine the stress this placed upon his family!  Soon thereafter he was transferred to USS SALT LAKE CITY, a heavy cruiser, as a gunner's mate (pointer on the main battery 8") and participated in the Doolittle Mission, surface battles around Guadalcanal, and finally the Battle of the Komandorski islands in March, '43 before being sent to school stateside...where he ended up, I believe, at MIT. (Electrical engineering)  His personal account of the Komandorski battle was typed & hand-written soon after that action, entitled "Retreat to Victory" and lay unread for fifty years before we met, at which time he gave it to me, along with a dim photo of his Purple Heart being pinned on him at PH by someone who looks a lot like Richmond Kelly Turner or Robert Theobald...I was flattered to be invited as his guest to a number of meetings of the PH Survivors group here some years back.  A more modest, unassuming, & appreciative guy I've never known, and through him I was able to meet many men and women who were present that infamous Sunday morning so long ago.  Of course ALL have remarkable stories, and most went on to other combat experiences in the Pacific later.
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Tracy White Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2005,2:11 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for sharing that Don!
Has any effort been made to preserve his account via Navy Historical Center or some other repository of oral histories and th elike?

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Let's see what this does...

Tracy White
http://www.ResearcherAtLarge.com
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