Posted by: SJS | November 1, 2020

He believed in democracy enough to fight for it–Red Stahley was a winner

Red in dress blues - formal shot
Red Stahley, USN, 1944

My father’s first assignment in WWII was with PT Squadron (RON) 15 in the Mediterranean in 1944. On bases in North Africa and small islands off the coast of Italy, his job was to serve as a radio operator helping to maintain the communication network that linked the PT boats, PT tenders, and PT bases.

It was not uncommon for the bases to be strafed by Nazi fighter planes. Dodging bullets was simply a fact of life for the sailors on PT bases.

Red’s first assignment in the South Pacific was with Squadron (RON) 27 in 1945 where he was assigned as a radioman to PT 373. On a particularly horrendous jungle river patrol in Borneo, he remained steadfast at his radio while his boat was being raked by heavy machine gun fire as the 373 and the 359 completed their mission of taking out a Japanese communications tower. He and his fellow radioman on PT 359, Tom Saffles, maintained close contact so their skippers could successfully carry out the attack. Red and Tom formed the link holding the mission together.

One PT sailor on the 359 was killed in the attack and a PT crewman on the 373 was gravely wounded. The mission was dangerous, harrowing, and very, very costly.

If my father was courageous enough to put his life on the line in service to our country in WWII, then I can damn well sure devote my time and energy to preserving our democracy in times of crisis and danger–like the times we are living in now. So I will work without ceasing to encourage my fellow citizens to vote for candidates who believe in justice for all, racial equality, truth, decent healthcare for every American, and the importance of science in education and government policy.

And I’m not stopping after this election ends.

I know now–as I have never known before–that freedom isn’t free and that the work of democracy goes on each and every day. So I intend to stay with the work of building democracy as long as I can draw breath. It is one small way to honor the legacy of my father and all those who have worn the uniform of the American Armed forces since our nation began.

And anyone who would ever refer to the members of the American military as “losers” or “suckers” does not deserve to live in this nation, much less hold elective office. One who would dare make remarks like these is the scum of the earth.

Vote. Vote. Vote. VOTE. Please–for God’s sake–VOTE.

It is the least you can do for this nation we are privileged to call our home.

Red at Biserta, North Africa
Red at Bizerta PT Base 1944


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