Posted by: SJS | September 13, 2012

In the hot South Pacific sun

With his fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, Red Stahley had the perfect combination of physical traits for an enjoyable trip to Denmark, Norway, Nova Scotia, or perhaps British Columbia.  An extended tour of duty in the South Pacific, however, was not a good fit for a person with his physical attributes.

Red and buddy in the sun

Red (left) and an unnamed buddy on PT 373

Yet, there was a war to be fought and the US Navy was making its assignments based on the skills and talents of its sailors and nothing else.  Like his fellow PT buddies, I’m sure Red never gave a thought to the environmental conditions in which he would serve his country.  Despite the toll on his skin and his eyes (which would not show up until decades later), he stayed focused on his tasks and did all that was asked of him.

In the final years of his life, when he suffered from macular degeneration in his eyes, he acknowledged that a big part of the cause had been those days with Squadron 27 in the South Pacific.  The sun beat down on the sailors with little mercy and the reflection of the sun off the ocean’s surface only magnified the damage.   In truth, it never really bothered him all that much.

“At least I made it home alive,” he told me more than once.   For Red, it all came under the heading of “doing one’s duty” and not complaining about it.  And that was quite a lesson in itself.


  1. Hey Steve, do you mind to email me this picture in a larger format? Sorry for the bother. I am just trying to see any and all pics that may have been my grandfather. Thanks!!

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