Posted by: SJS | August 15, 2019

Emperor Hirohito announces surrender

Ron 27

It was on this day, August 15th, in 1945 that Emperor Hirohito of Imperial Japan announced the surrender of the Japanese forces.  I can barely imagine the feelings that Hirohito’s announcement ignited in my father and all his buddies in PT Squadron (Ron) 27 on this day in 1945.

As with all the Allied military forces in the Pacific, the sailors in the PT squadrons were anticipating the role they would be called upon to play when the orders were given for the invasion of mainland Japan.  Given the horrors that were experienced by the Allied forces in places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa, I’m sure there was an ample amount of dread that hung over all of them.

To get the news that Japan was going to surrender must have been among the best days that Red Stahley ever experienced over the entire course of his life.  What a day that must have been for all the sailors in the Mosquito Fleet!

Pictured above is the insignia patch of PT Squadron (Ron) 27.

Posted by: SJS | August 3, 2019

PT 523 on a rescue mission

My thanks to fellow PT blogger, Mitch Doren, for sharing this amazing photo of PT 523 as she ferries rescued troops to safety somewhere in the South Pacific.  This intrepid boat was lost after the fierce naval battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944.  The angle from which this photo was snapped offers a stunning view of a powerfully armed, fast moving PT as it glides over the water’s surface.

Posted by: SJS | July 25, 2019

Full throttle in echelon formation

From the vast photo archives of PT Boats, Inc. of Germantown, TN, a photo of Higgins model boats moving in echelon formation in April 1944.  Images like this one convey the nimble velocity of the PTs as they move across the water’s surface.

Posted by: SJS | July 16, 2019

Inspection at Melville, Rhode Island

Enlisted sailors undergo inspection at Melville

Enlisted sailors undergo an inspection at the PT Training Center at Melville, Rhode Island.  Red Stahley was extremely proud of his time at Melville where he received training on every aspect of PT service following his training as a radioman at Samson, New York.

By the time he received his first assignment to a PT base in the Mediterranean in the summer of 1944, Red was prepared to take on any PT task at any time with a moment’s notice whether he was on the base or at sea.

The education and training that the PT sailors received made them among the most versatile and capable of all the sailors in the USN during WWII.

Photo courtesy of PT Boats, Inc./Germantown TN

Posted by: SJS | June 26, 2019

PT 328 in camo

A dramatic photo of PT 328 of Squadron (Ron) 21 hits full throttle as it moved out on patrol.  Bristling with deck weapons and depth charges, painted in camouflage, and carrying a full crew, the boat moves smartly over the waves.  I received this photo from a buddy of my father who served briefly with him in Squadron (Ron) 40 during the late summer of 1945.

PT 328 of Squadron 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: SJS | June 16, 2019

A Father’s Day gem of wisdom

“The older I get, the smarter my father gets”

Brilliant.  That is a true gem of wisdom if ever there was one.  In today’s edition of The Washington Post, I came across those words in a column by John Ficarra who, it just so happens, was the editor of Mad Magazine from 1985 to 2018.  The quote isn’t original to Ficarra but he shares it with his readers in his superb essay which is a beautiful tribute to his hard working, devoted father.  For his work at Mad Magazine and his gift of sharing these profound words of wisdom, I offer John my thanks.

My father, George “Red” Stahley, was smart enough to learn Morse Code as a teenager, courageous enough to serve his country on small, fragile boats in the Mediterranean Sea and the South Pacific, bold enough to convince a stunning Irish beauty named Rita Marie O’Neill to marry him in 1950, daring enough to launch a drive to unionize salesmen in the trucking industry in the 1960s, and devoted enough to provide for five children and see them all grow up and live productive, generative lives.

When he passed away in November of 1999, a month shy of his 74th birthday, he was still in possession of his sharp wit and mischievous sense of humor.  As my mother and sisters and I gathered around him in his hospice bed in suburban Philly, as his breath was failing him, he was still able to deliver a few deft remarks that reduced us to uncontrollable laughter.  Remembering those perfectly timed remarks still evoke laughter (and a few tears) all these years later.

In the years since his death, as I spoke with PT vets who served with him in the Med and the dense jungle rivers of the Philippine Islands, I was reduced to an awed silence time after time after time as they spoke with raw emotion and even reverence for the young sailor from Philly whose skills with communications technology, coolness under fire, and loyal friendship helped them to survive the horrific terrors of war.  His memory evoked towering respect from these men who–over a span of more than fifty years–had only grown more grateful that he was there for them.

With each  passing year, Red Stahley does, indeed, get smarter.

And you better believe I know it.

 

In the photo, Red and a crew mate pose on PT 373 after a hard day’s work somewhere in the South Pacific.

Posted by: SJS | June 3, 2019

D-Day 75th Anniversary on June 6th

On June 6th we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy.  The massive amphibious operation was a pivotal moment in turning the tide of WWII.  The impact of that historic day continues to reverberate in our nation and across the world.  For those of us who grew up as the children and grandchildren of the men and women who served in the US Armed Forces during the Second World War, the success and horrors of the Normandy Invasion are aspects of American History that touch very close to home.

In 1998, the movie Saving Private Ryan was released and it quickly became one of the most influential films ever made. The combined genius of director, Steven Spielberg and actors Tom Hanks and Matt Damon (among others) resulted in a work that immediately seared itself into the consciousness of viewers.  For many WWII veterans, the effect was overpowering, deeply emotional, and–in some cases–traumatic.

My sister, Marguerite, accompanied our father, George “Red” Stahley, to a showing of the movie in late 1998.  I recall her telling me that dad didn’t make past the true-to-life rendering of the invasion on the morning of June 6, 1944.  The battle scenes do not spare the viewer any images of the gruesome horrors that greeted the American soldiers as they made their way on to the beach under unrelenting enemy fire and bombardment.

The portrayal turned out to be just too much to absorb.  My father and sister had to leave the theater in the aftermath of that scene. My father was badly shaken for days and it was difficult to keep his emotions in check.

In the early part of June 1944, Red was finishing up his PT training and would soon embark for the Mediterranean PT bases in North Africa where the Americans were preparing to support the English and French forces as they geared up for the invasion of Southern France later that summer.  The war in Europe was raging–especially in France–and Red and his mates knew how intense and dangerous the fighting had become.  The Nazi war machine was not giving up ground easily and Red was fully aware that he would soon find himself on the front lines, and all that implied.

About a year after his experience with Saving Private Ryan, my father passed away in late 1999.  How I wish we had had the opportunity to talk more about his experiences in the European theater.

The photos above are public domain pictures featuring the American forces on June 6, 1944.

Posted by: SJS | May 28, 2019

WWII Navy burial

As a PT sailor is laid to rest somewhere in the Philippines during 1945, his fellow sailors bring solemnity, dignity, and military reverence to the moment.  Although this remote location is on the other side of the world from Arlington National Cemetery, these American servicemen form an honor guard worthy of a burial of any distinguished military officer or elected official in the nation’s capital.  The final resting place of this unnamed PT crewman becomes hallowed ground as his fellow sailors pay tribute to his sacrifice.

This photo is from the vast archives of PT Boats, Inc. and is shared here with deep gratitude.

Posted by: SJS | May 21, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

As we approach Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude and respect all those courageous men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation.  As we come together to celebrate with family and friends over this holiday weekend, let us keep in mind those who died for all that we hold dear.

Simple, dignified white gravestones mark the final resting place of American service personnel in military cemeteries across the nation as well as on foreign soil.  They stand in still, silent witness to our highest ideals and most cherished values.

In the photo above, a veteran’s grave site is decorated with a floral arrangement.

Posted by: SJS | May 9, 2019

Torpedo testing

From the beginning of their service through the final days of the war, the PT boats carried large torpedoes that were launched from their decks.  Even as the deck-mounted weaponry on the PTs became more sophisticated and lethal toward the end of the war, the torpedo tubes were always loaded and ready for deployment.  Repeated problems with the torpedoes, despite some impressive kills, forced the PT crews to maximize every other tool at their disposal.

In this photo from the extensive archives of PT Boats, Inc., a torpedo is fired as the officers and crew of an unnamed PT look on.

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