Survivors arriving at the USS Fitch on June 6th 1944

My deepest thanks to fellow PT Splinter, David M. Laz for the photograph and post he shared about the amazing feat pulled off by Lt. Bill Liebenow and his crew on PT 199 on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Sixty crewmembers of the USS Corry were hauled out of the water off Utah Beach and delivered safely to the destroyer, USS Fitch by the crew of PT 199.

Less than a year before the Normandy invasion, Lt. Liebenow, then assigned to the South Pacific in August of 1943, and his crew rescued Lt. John F. Kennedy and the survivors of PT 109 who had been stranded on a tiny island after their boat was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer.

When it came to daring rescues under enormously harrowing conditions, the PT crews were second to none. The heroic work of the PTs both before and during the Normandy invasion were among the proudest moments in the distinguished legacy of the Mosquito Fleet.

As we remember the importance of this day, we honor all those Allied veterans whose courage, daring, and skill came together to gain a precious foothold on the Western European front and continued the hard, hard work of dismantling the war machine of Nazi Germany.

Again, my thanks to David Laz for enlightening me on the amazing legacy of Lt. Bill Liebenow and his personal contributions to the history of the Navy’s PT Boats in WWII.

Posted by: SJS | May 26, 2022

Memorial Day images

Navy Honor Guard

The faces of the young sailors in this Navy Honor Guard reflect the solemnity and dignity of the holiday we observe in the US under the name of Memorial Day. We pause to remember our fellow Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all we hold dear.

And as we mark this important day in our country, we are mindful in this year 2022 of the citizens of Ukraine who have been observing their version of Memorial Day every day since the Russian invasion which began in late February. In this photo, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians honor unknown soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country in opposition to an invader that is attempting to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth. Russia has already lost this war. Ukraine will prevail.

God bless our honored dead and God bless the people of Ukraine.

Glory to Ukraine!

Posted by: SJS | May 14, 2022

Giving as good as they get

The armed forces of Ukraine are making good use of the enhanced ballistic weaponry they are receiving from the US and other western governments. Ukraine is now on the verge of matching the long-range firepower that the vile Russians have been using against their country since the war began in late February. We will soon begin to hear that the Ukrainians are blasting military and supply targets inside Russia with regularity.

It is now time for Russia to get a taste of what their nation has been doing to Ukraine. Paybacks are hell and hell is already coming to Russia. After demonstrating their devastating ability to destroy Russian naval vessels on the open sea, we may be sure that stationary land targets in Russia will soon be turned into massive fireballs.

Bring it on, Ukraine! Teach Russia what Union General William T. Sherman taught the Confederacy in 1864. Some lessons are only learned the hard way.

PT 131 with rocket launchers on deck

When the US Navy began to install rocket launchers on the PT boats in 1944, it quickly became a game changer. Like the Ukrainian fighters, the PT crews quickly used the ballistic weapons to deadly effect against their larger, better armed adversaries. Adding rockets to their speed, stealth, and military savvy, the PTs became even more aggressive and lethal.

Give as good as you get.

Glory to Ukraine!

The Admiral Makarov in better days

Recent reports indicate that Ukrainian Neptune missiles have hit the Russian frigate, The Admiral Makarov, in the Black Sea not far from Snake Island. A second major Russian warship is now ablaze and likely to sink. For a nation with minimal naval resources, the Ukrainian armed forces are demonstrating as much military prowess on the sea as they are showing on land and in the air. With the massive supplies of ballistic weapons now flooding into Ukraine from the West, the intrepid Ukrainian military forces will continue to shred the bumbling, hapless Russian military that is clearly overmatched, outclassed, and demoralized.

I can’t wait to see what the Ukrainians have in store for Putin and all of Russia as they get ready to celebrate “Victory Day” tomorrow, May 9th, to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. My guess is that Ukraine is about to turn Russian “Victory Day” upside down and teach those vile war criminals a lesson they will never forget. “Victory Day” will never be quite the same after what Ukraine has been doing to Russia every day since this horrific, unjustified war was launched by the demented, bloodthirsty tyrant, Putin, with the acquiescence of the vast majority of his fellow Russians.

They will be paying for their crimes against humanity for at least five generations.

For this son of a distinguished PT veteran, the spirit and savvy of the Ukrainian military have given me new insights into the fighting spirit that animated the PT crews of WWII in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific. Wow! Just like what we’re seeing in Ukraine today, those PT crews were indomitable, brash, and badass. ,

Glory to Ukraine!

Posted by: SJS | May 3, 2022

Russian “PT boats” going down

Russian Raptor class boat

Late news reports indicate that the savvy armed forces of Ukraine have sent two Russian Raptor boats to the bottom of the ocean. These small attack craft are modeled after the legendary American PT boats of WWII. But it looks like the Ukrainian gunners have drawn a bead on these Russian knock offs and are dispatching them one after another. Picking off small, highly mobile craft is a tribute to the skill and competence of the Ukrainian artillery batteries.

Ukrainian Neptune missile hunting Russian ships

May those intrepid Ukrainian gunners clean the sea of every Russian Raptor boat, sharpening their aim in preparation for going after the larger Russian vessels–the ones firing on Ukrainian cities with no shred of human decency or mercy.

I hope that the Ukrainians sink every Russian warship–and soon.

Glory to Ukraine!

Posted by: SJS | April 24, 2022

Tough work in Manila Bay 1945

PT sailors in Manila Bay/1945

In March of 1945, PT crews and Marines on landing crafts were part of an operation to flush out Japanese holdouts on sunken ships in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands. The fighting to recapture Manila Bay was intense and bloody. Extracting enemy fighters from these sunken vessels was part of the challenge in the early spring of 1945. It was around this time that Red Stahley arrived in the South Pacific, assigned to Squadron (RON) 27. I do not know if my father was assigned to any of these sunken vessel missions; if so, he never spoke about it.

In the photograph above, the PT sailor on the right with his back to the camera holds a flamethrower, a deadly weapon used for flushing out entrenched enemy combatants. The photo makes clear that the work ahead would be fierce, ugly, and merciless.

PT crew moves in on a sunken vessel in Manila Bay

As the war with Germany was ending in Europe, the fighting in the South Pacific continued to grow more relentless and lethal. In coordination with the Marines, the PT crews were advancing in the face of ferocious resistance. Red Stahley was in the middle of it all.

Clearing out an entrenched enemy

The fighting on these sunken vessels in Manila Bay was emblematic of the battles that characterized the war in the South Pacific. As tough as the fighting was for the PT crews in the Mediterranean, the battles in the South Pacific were unlike anything they had experienced before.

As I continue to follow the news coming out of Ukraine and the fierce courage and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, I am reminded of the advances of the Allies in 1945 in the South Pacific. Without knowing how or when the fighting in the South Pacific would end, the PT crews and the Marines never wavered, never lost their nerve, and never hesitated to put their lives on the line every day. The combat

Ukrainian fighters on the front lines

was brutal, up close and personal, and neither side was inclined to give any quarter to the other. What we are now seeing in Ukraine bears a striking resemblance to the intense battles in the South Pacific.

As the Ukrainians continue to hold their own against the massive, bumbling Russian war machine, they are turning the tide of the war. With the continuous supply of sophisticated weapons from the West, the Ukrainians will use their courage and military savvy to reign down unrelenting destruction on the vile Russians who mistakenly believe they can still win. To use a tired–but true–old saying–they ain’t seen nothing yet. As their losses mount, the Russians better pray that the Ukrainians don’t get ahold of any flamethrowers. They have no right to expect one ounce of mercy for what they have done.

Glory to Ukraine!

My thanks to Peter DeForest who posted the Manila Bay photos on a Facebook group devoted to the PT Boats of WWII. The photos are from the archives of Life Magazine which featured a photo essay about the Manila Bay operation in March of 1945.

Posted by: SJS | April 17, 2022

Kyiv sinks Moscow

The Russian Federation’s MOSKVA

With well targeted Neptune missiles, the armed forces of Ukraine sent the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to the bottom of the ocean. The ship was named after Russian’s capital city, Moscow. The Moskva and all of its bristling firepower didn’t stand a chance against the fierce military savvy of the Ukrainians.

On May 27, 1941, the British Royal Navy sank the German battleship Bismarck, in the North Atlantic. That powerful warship was the pride of the German navy. The destruction of the Bismarck was an ominous portent of the fate of the Third Reich. Within four years, Nazi Germany was laid waste by the Allies.

The scope and scale of the destruction that Hitler’s Germany brought upon itself was a preview of what Putin’s Russia is doing to itself at this very moment. With each new atrocity it commits against the innocent people of Ukraine and with each new humiliating military setback it suffers, Russia is following the playbook of Nazi Germany to the bitter end. What happened to the Bismarck is what happened to the people of Germany.

The destruction of the Moskva is more than a symbol, more than a military victory for Ukraine. It is a victory of good over pure evil. For this son of a WWII PT veteran, this is just one of the best naval victories I’ve ever seen or learned about. Not bad for a nation with a navy the size of Bolivia’s.

Glory to Ukraine!

Happy Easter.

Posted by: SJS | April 12, 2022

Hardened veterans hunkering down

Ukrainian fighters spring into action

After more than seven weeks of brutal, relentless fighting, the war in Ukraine is now shifting to the eastern front. The Ukrainian military has already won an astounding victory by preventing the Russians from capturing their capital city, Kyiv. All the predictions of the vaunted armed might of the Russian army sweeping to a quick victory were disproven by the ferocious, indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Long before the recent, massive invasion of their country, the Ukrainians had been fighting the Russians in the Donbas region of their nation. The last seven weeks of intense combat have only made the Ukrainian armed forces a more effective, determined, and lethal adversary as the Russians have learned the hard way. The atrocities committed by the Russians have hardened the resistance of all Ukrainians and what their fighters will bring to the coming battles on the eastern front will be a bottomless reservoir of rage combined with state-of-the-art ballistic weaponry arriving daily from the West.

To say that the Ukrainians will be an even more formidable adversary in the weeks to come may well be the understatement of the century.

Just as the Allied forces fighting in the South Pacific in 1945 became tougher, more focused, and less forgiving as they advanced against an entrenched, suicidal enemy, the Ukrainians are now a more powerful force than they were the day before Russia launched its unjustified, murderous invasion in late February.

PT 373 crew
PT 373 crew July 1945/Red Stahley 2nd row, 2nd from right

By the summer of 1945, the PT sailors of Squadron (RON) 27 were seasoned fighters accustomed to engaging the enemy on the open sea, in the air, or on the jungle rivers of Indonesia, the Philippines, and smaller islands across the South Pacific. On many of their missions, The PT crews worked hand in hand with the Marines. There were no illusions about the fierce tenacity of the Japanese forces arrayed against them but neither was there any doubt that the US Navy and Marines were equal to the task.

If the Russians think they faced fierce opposition in their efforts to take Kyiv, they have no idea what awaits them in the Donbas. May the brave forces of Ukraine bring annihilation to the Russian demons who have brought such death, destruction, and terror to the people of that noble country. Glory to Ukraine.

Posted by: SJS | April 3, 2022

A profound salute!

As a column of Ukrainian soldiers rolls toward the front lines to confront the barbaric, inhuman invaders who are attempting to annihilate their country, they are greeted by two children whose rapt attention and wordless admiration evokes broad smiles and spontaneous gestures of gratitude from the troops.

In the faces of those courageous Ukrainian fighters, I can see the face of my father, Red Stahley, and his fellow PT sailors who never hesitated to jump into their boats on a moment’s notice to head out on missions that were fraught with unknown dangers against larger and better armed adversaries. There was never one minute of doubt about what they needed to do–and they did it over and over and over again. Like the determined, unstoppable Ukranian soldiers, the PT crews knew what they were fighting for and they never forgot it for a minute.

And like the brave fighters in Ukraine, the PT crews never saw themselves as playing defense–it was offense all the way. You take the battle to your enemy and you fight like hell. There were no pulled punches. Like the Ukrainians, the PT sailors were superb counterpunchers.

In the stance of that little boy in the photo, saluting his fellow Ukrainians, I see myself as a child–so proud to wear my father’s white Navy cap and so proud to remember what he did on behalf of our country. With his toy gun slung across his back, it is clear that the boy’s spirit is with those soldiers who are more than ready to take on whatever pathetic Russians might be in their path ahead.

The armed forces, the political leaders, and the noble people of Ukraine have already won this horrific war and they will see it through to the end. They are paying an enormous cost and they deserve every bit of help we can give them. Russia has already lost this war. The horrors and death and loss they are visiting on Ukraine will rebound on them one thousand times over.

Glory to Ukraine!

Posted by: SJS | March 28, 2022

Bracing for attack

As her prow slices through the water, the crewmen of PT 299 prepare themselves for an attack from the sky. Moments before this photo was snapped, these men were likely at their posts below deck. Within moments, they were behind the guns, now raised skyward, at the ready for the attack of the enemy planes. Forget about helmets and flak jackets, there were enemy planes to shoot out of the sky.

All indications are that the sailors on board PT 299 are ready to give as good as they get. For the PT crews, the best defense was always an aggressive offense. Whether the attack was coming from the sea, the land, or the air, the first instinct of the Mosquito Fleet was to strike back and strike back hard.

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