Posted by: SJS | July 27, 2011

Red helps homesick sailors on Samar

One of the surprising revelations about Red’s WWII Navy service came from PT Veteran Franny Hart of Massachusetts.   After he saw a small ad I placed in the All Hands newsletter from PT Boats, Inc., seeking information about George J. Stahley, Franny sent me an e-mail to tell me that he knew my father.   They met in 1945 when their two PT squadrons (22 & 27) were based on Samar Island in the Philippines.

Red relaxing on Samar

Red at ease on Samar 1945

What he told me was that Red became quite adept in operating the MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) and was using his skills to connect fellow sailors with their loved ones back in the States.  While the MARS technology became more refined during the Korean and Viet Nam wars, it was a very new technology in 1945.  Spending his free time at the island’s radio shack, Red was using the MARS to help homesick sailors speak directly with their families and Franny emphatically told me that he was the most homesick of them all.  I was stunned to get this news as my father had never mentioned his MARS work to me.

“Your father was a big man on Samar,” Franny told me.  “He was so popular working the MARS that he had the sailors lining up outside the radio shack waiting for him to put them through to the States.”  Franny was quite emotional as he described how much he appreciated Red’s kindness.  “Your father was so important that even the Marines were waiting in line for his help, but he always made them wait until he took care of the PT boys.  With your father, it was always the PT boys first and we loved him for it.”

To learn more about my conversation with Franny, please visit my website: and read the essay I wrote entitled “A Big Man on Samar.”  It is in the Narrative section of the website.  The Narrative section also contains samples of documentation from Red’s official USN personnel file. 

I will be eternally grateful to Franny Hart for making contact with me and sharing this important piece of Red’s Navy story.  It is something we would have never known without Franny’s kindness.


  1. This made me cry Stephen. Your dad was a great guy and how important his MARS worked was for all those homesick sailors. I bet you and your sisters are so proud of him. How sad we don’t find out some of the best stories until our loved ones are gone.
    Keep up this great work and the stories of PT Boat Red!
    Love, Cyndy

    • Cyndy,

      I am so appreciative of your kind words about my father. And your continued support of my blog has meant a great deal to me. I’m fortunate to have all this great support.


  2. Steve,

    What a wonderful blessing your father provided to the homesick sailors he served with in World War II. I very much enjoy reading your narrative, A Big Man on Samar. Your Pt 373 website is very impressive and is a wonderful tribute to your dad and the men he served with in the military. Thanks for sharing, I continue to learn so much from your blog and website.


    • Aneise,

      Thanks for the good words. The experience of hearing about this portion of my father’s life was deeply moving for me. It’s another one of those things about his Navy career that I could have talked to him about before he passed. But I’m so grateful that Franny Hart made a point of letting me know about Dad’s work on Samar.


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