Posted by: SJS | September 26, 2020

PT 221 leans in

The bow of PT 221 slices through the water with her crew on deck poised and ready for whatever lay ahead. This stunning photo embodies the velocity, aggressiveness, and battle readiness that was so characteristic of the PTs.

In the stories my father shared with me when I was a young child, he never failed to emphasize the speed and agility of the boats. I remember him using his hands to demonstrate how the 373 would bounce over the water’s surface at full throttle. While he was often busy at the boat’s radio below deck, there were plenty of opportunities for him to be on deck when the 373 gunned those Packard engines and hit top speed.

Posted by: SJS | September 9, 2020

PT training run at Melville

A striking color photo of PT sailors on the 20 mm anti-aircraft gun near the stern of a boat on a training run at Melville, Rhode Island. The wake trailing off the boat gives a good indication of the velocity of the PT as it makes its way across the water’s surface.

Although Red’s expertise was as a radioman, I’m sure that he put in his share of training hours on this gun. Every PT sailor received training in every aspect of the boat’s operation so that the skipper could deploy them as needed.

Getting comfortable with a weapon like this was an essential part of preparation for the PT sailors. And it served as a stark reminder that things could turn on a dime in combat.

For the sailors in the Navy’s Mosquito Fleet, the old navy slogan “All hands on deck” was not a cliché.

This photo is from the archives of the PT Museum.

Posted by: SJS | September 4, 2020

Red’s Commanders-in-Chief

Over the course of years in the US Navy, Red Stahley served under two Commanders-in-Chief– Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He never doubted for a second that the presidents he served were men of honor, integrity, and principle. Red knew from the time of his enlistment to the day he received his honorable discharge that his Commander-in-Chief always had his back.

Perhaps one day–soon–we will again have a president who respects the men and women of our armed forces; a president who will not refer to fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers;” a president who would never denigrate patriotic Americans like John McCain and George H. W. Bush as losers for being captured or shot down by hostile forces.

Perhaps one day–soon–our nation will cease being pitied and ridiculed and mocked by the rest of the world and our brave military personnel will have a commander-in-chief who will not abide a Russian president who places bounties on the heads of our fighting forces in Afghanistan.

Perhaps one day–soon–we will have a president who is not a pathological liar, a vile racist, and a person who holds Confederate generals in higher esteem than the noble Union Generals who led the fight to preserve the United States and end slavery.

Let’s get busy and do all we can to restore honor and decency to the highest office in the land. We have to vote like our future of our democracy depends on it–because it does.

Posted by: SJS | August 23, 2020

PT 487 from the air

PT 487 overhead view

A stunning aerial photograph of PT 487 from the air.

The stark beauty of this black and white photograph captures the energy and grace of a PT boat moving swiftly across the surface of the ocean.  Images like this one always help me to fill out the picture of my father as a young crewman, working as part of a tight team, moving their boat towards whatever awaits them in the darkness ahead.

As I continue on my journey of discovery about the WWII service of Red Stahley, the more in awe I become of what he and his crewmates accomplished in their defense of our nation.

Posted by: SJS | August 15, 2020

WWII ends – August 15, 1945

vj-day-collage

This was the day in the summer of 1945 when WWII finally came to an end.  I can only begin to imagine the overwhelming sense of relief, gratitude, and shock that came over my father and his fellow PT sailors as the word spread through the ranks that Imperial Japan had capitulated to the Allies.

While the formal surrender by Japan came two weeks later, it was this day in 1945 when the American forces in the Pacific knew that the hostilities were over and that they had survived.  For Red Stahley and his fellow PT sailors, the realization that there would be no invasion of mainland Japan must have come like a message straight from heaven.  They knew what the conquest of the Japanese homeland would entail–and now that invasion would no longer be necessary.

Even though my birth would not occur for another six years,  it turns out that August 15, 1945 was a lucky day for me.  Had Japan not surrendered, I don’t know if I would even be here today tapping out these words to share with you.

Posted by: SJS | August 6, 2020

All hands on deck

PT 552 throttles up

PT 552 hits full throttle and executes a smooth starboard turn.  The crew, in helmets and at battle stations, are on their way to engage the enemy.

Photos like this always cause me to take a deep breath as I realize that my father frequently found himself moving across the ocean on PT 373, heading into harm’s way with every crewmember getting themselves prepared for what lay ahead.

This photo is from the extensive collection of Frank Andruss who has generously shared the photos with the wider PT community.  Few people have done more to preserve and promote the legacy of the Navy’s WWII PT boats than Frank and I am deeply grateful for all his hard work.

I’ve acquired several of Frank’s books and they are excellent–I highly recommend them.

Posted by: SJS | July 14, 2020

Happy Bastille Day

French flag

On July 14, 1789 the military fortress and prison, the Bastille, was stormed during a violent uprising that added momentum to the violent upheaval of the French Revolution.

This year, France has honored its health workers at scaled-down events to mark the national celebration of Bastille Day amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  The French authorities cancelled the traditional military and instead held a tribute to those fighting the virus.  This is the first time officials have called off the annual military parade through the capital Paris since the end of World War II in 1945.

On this most important French holiday, we gratefully remember how that nation came to the aid of our fledgling American democracy and played such a crucial role in the successful outcome of the American Revolution.  Few allies of the United States have been as loyal and steadfast as the French over the course of our history.

 

Posted by: SJS | June 29, 2020

PT 506 – in color

PT 506 in color

PT 506 hits full acceleration in this stunning, very rare color photo that was recently posted by Frank Andruss.  The speed, sleekness, and deck details of the PTs are  accentuated through the use of color film.  With vivid immediacy, the power and seaworthiness of the PT boats is perfectly captured in this compelling image.

My thanks to Frank for sharing this treasure with the extended PT boat network.  Frank’s extensive work to preserve and promote the legacy of the Mosquito Fleet has been a great gift to us all.  Keep up the great work, Frank!

 

 

Posted by: SJS | June 21, 2020

A Father’s Day salute

George Jr. & Phil Cameron in tuxes for Bill Sweeny's wedding

By the time my father graduated from Philadelphia’s Northeast Catholic High School, he had already enlisted in the US Navy and would soon begin his arduous training in preparation for his role as a Radioman in the Navy’s famed “Mosquito Fleet.”  Entering the US Armed Forces as hostilities in Europe and the South Pacific were becoming more intense and dangerous was an act of courage, boldness, and authentic patriotism.

As my research continues on my father’s remarkable career as an enlisted sailor during some of the darkest days of WWII, I am in awe of what he accomplished before he reached the age of 21.  Along with his young comrades in the Navy, the Marines, the Army, the Army Air Force, the Coast Guard, the WAVES, the WACS, and the Seabees–he was part of “The Greatest Generation” that changed the history of the world.

Doing his duty, not talking very much about it, and getting on with his life–that’s how things went as Red Stahley completed high school and stepped into the tumultuous  world that awaited him in 1943.  It’s always an honor to pause on Father’s Day and recognize his enduring legacy.

Wishing a very happy Father’s Day to all the dads, grandfathers, and father figures who contribute–and have contributed–to making our world a better place.

In the photo, George “Red” Stahley poses with his friend and fellow North Catholic buddy, Phil Cameron, on the wedding day of their friend, Bill Sweeney in Philly in 1948.  Like Red, Phil served in the USN as part of a destroyer crew.

Posted by: SJS | June 6, 2020

A day to honor courage – and remember

Commissioning of USS HILO AGP 2 on June 1, 1942. 90% were PH survivors

As we commemorate  D-Day and the astounding courage of the American Armed forces which participated in the Normandy Invasion on this day in 1944, we remember also the unshakable courage of other members of the US Military–past and present–who model the virtue of courage and inspire us to embody it in our own lives.

Pictured above is the commissioning ceremony for the USN crew of USS HILO AGP 2 on June 11, 1942.  As a PT tender, the USS HILO would serve numerous PT crews over the course of the war.

All of the petty officers and 90% of the enlisted men in this crew were Pearl Harbor survivors.  As sailors who experienced that horrific attack of December 7, 1941, they demonstrated their bravery, determination, and resilience as part of the Navy’s Mosquito Fleet.  Their hard work made sure that the PT boats were well maintained and supported for their missions.  These brave sailors never forgot for a moment what they were fighting for and all those they lost at Pearl Harbor.

 

Photo courtesy of PT Boats, Inc.

 

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