Shipmates
Memories and Memorials - USS Ticonderoga  

We're man for man the Navy's finest men of war... Our eagles fly in search of prey...
Ticonderoga.... Anchors aweigh!   ---- 
Ship's song by Mus2c Eddie Fritz Jr.

Each May, the anniversary of the commissioning of the World War II warship, veterans gather for a reunion. While it's been more than 50 years since World War II ended, these sailors talk like it was yesterday. Clearly it was one of the most significant events of their long lifetimes, that day in January 1945 when the Ticonderoga took two hits from Japanese suicide planes off Taiwan. The 144 dead were buried at sea; the 200 injured were taken with the ship to Bremerton, where it was repaired and sent back into the war.

Bob Chamberlain , For seven years Bill Chamberlain would load his father's wheelchair onto the airplane and follow the trail of the Ticonderoga. But two months before the 1997 Big T reunion in Seattle, Bob Chamberlain died. Bill came anyway.

"These are always friends," says Bill Chamberlain, who came to the reunion from his home in California.

Charles Large, The stories. The stories. Charles Large, the first man assigned to the boat in 1944, remembers the day that the ship was hit and one of his close friends was trapped behind the fire on a deck.

"I grabbed a life preserver and yelled, `I'll see you in Toyko!' " His name never showed up as a survivor

Nearly a half-century later, Large, after searching in vain for his friend, it was at a Big T reunion when the man walked in the door. "I hadn't seen him in 45 years," said Large, explaining that the friend had floated for three days in the Pacific Ocean before being picked up by a destroyer and taken to Australia. "I recognized him the minute I spotted him. We couldn't talk for quite a while."

Large, from Brockton, Mass., has not missed a reunion. At the May 1997 gathering, he read the names of the 24 men who have died since the last reunion. "These reunions are becoming more and more important every year," he says. "Our biggest hope is to get the fellows on the later crews involved so they can carry on when we're gone."


Posted 6/10/02
BM2 Leo F. Gauthier
Middleboro High School held graduation ceremonies on Saturday June 8th, 2002 in Middleboro Massachusetts. In a speech, Valedictorian Jessica Soule, compared the world to a place of heroes, some of which lived right in this very building. Soule concluded by telling her classmates,
"I ask one thing of you all, become a hero."
However, a hero was already in attendance. Middleboro High School class member of 1944, Leo Francis Gauthier, left school at age 16 to help his family earn money as he and his 4 brothers all entered a branch of the United States Armed Services. At age 17, Leo joined the Navy and from 1944 to 1954 served in World War II aboard the USS Ticonderoga in 2nd division (5-inch guns) and the Korean War aboard LST 602 and earned a number of medals and awards for his services. He was given an honorary degree, linking the Class of '42 with the Class of 2002. "I'm very proud and very honored," said Leo, whose daughter, Sharon Matthews, helped organize the degree less than a month ago. It was his only regret not receiving his Diploma , so now he's very happy to have this honor added to his numerous awards. Always being one to show his humorous side, while conversing with the principal after the ceremony he told him he was sorry for being late for school. "but it was only 60 years!", he quipped.
Leo was aboard the "Big T" during 1944 until the end of WWII, and like other survivors he has never forgotten 21 January 1945.




Posted 2/15/12
s2c Joseph L. Fallacaro
A New York native, Joe completed training in early 1944 with Company 558 at the US Naval Training Center in Sampson, N.Y.
He was assigned to the new USS TICONDEROGA as a member of 2nd division 5-inch gun crew.
On 21 January 1945 after chow, Joe and two ship mates (Ken Bluzard and Pat Kitt) decided to go below and visit other mates. After a few minutes they heard the guns firing and the ship shuddered. Seeing men running every which way they separated while heading for their stations knowing they were under attack. Joe was later found at his station. Well thought of by his ship mates Joe died that day defending them and his country. He is memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial and is fondly remembered by friends and family



Navy Cross Award
CGM Virgil Glenn Sharpe, Gunners Mate 1st class Virgil Sharpe, who passed away in 1970, received the Navy Cross
for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving as a Member of the Crew of the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. TICONDEROGA (CV-14), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Formosa, on 21 January 1945. After his ship was struck by a suicide plane during an overwhelming enemy air attack, Gunner's Mate First Class Sharpe assumed charge of a 20-mm. battery and directed his men until the intense strafing and bombing attack culminated in the crash of a second suicide craft on the forward gun director. Although sustaining shrapnel wounds in both legs and in the body from the second crash, he struggled to his feet and, entering the ready service magazine which was endangered by flames, turned on the sprinkler system, and averted a threatened magazine explosion. Then applying a tourniquet to one man whose leg was blown off, he assisted in caring for many other wounded before loss of blood necessitated his removal to sick bay. By his courage, initiative and presence of mind in the face of great danger, Gunner's Mate First Class Sharpe upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Posted 2/15/12
s1c Rosario J. Garfi
Rosario Joseph Garfi, 82, of Newburyport, died April 1, 2008, at the Schumacher Nursing Home in White Plains, N.Y. He was the loving husband of Mary Elizabeth (Henneberry) Garfi, who died June 24, 2007. Born in Newburyport, November 29, 1925, son of the late Frank and Sebastiana (DiSanto) Garfi, he was a graduate of Newburyport High School, Class of 1943, where he was an outstanding athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. Mr. Garfi, a veteran of World War II, served with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific on the USS Ticonderoga, as a member of 2nd division (5-inch guns) from February 1, 1944, to May 9, 1946



Posted 2/15/12
Anthony J. Licci:  FLY CREEK Anthony Joseph Licci, 82, of Fly Creek, who survived kamikaze attacks aboard the USS Ticonderoga during World War II, died Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 28, 2008 at Otsego Manor. Born Oct. 29, 1925, in Manhattan, He was the son of Carlo and Antonina (Coffaro) Licci. On March 25, 1945, Anthony married Genevieve M. Kelly according to the Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in the Church of St. Gabriel in Corona. During World War II, he served his country in the Navy in the Pacific Theater of Operations aboard the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga CV 14. On Jan. 21, 1945, when Ticonderoga was attacked by two kamikaze suicide planes, Anthony and his ship mates were trapped in the engine room during the raid.



Posted -
Dave Kelley
Dave Kelley was a marine on board the "Big T" in 1944-45 and later recalls how he "Fought in The China Seas and South Pacific on the "T" thru 5 battles with the Japs Till we got hit bad on Jan 21 1945 by two Kamikazes and 2 other bombs. And some near misses, which causes a lot of damage in the lower decks. We were listing badly and had a lot of damage on the superstructure (they call it the island on a carrier.) The got us out of there with the help of destroyers and air fighter cover. This was off the Philippines where we just bombed Luzon and Leyte early that morning. We were sent home to Bremerton, Wash. Naval Yard for repairs. Other jobs on ship were Guard duty, 4hrs. on and 8hrs. off, Ship Captain's orderly, worked maintaining and cleaning my gun battery."



Captain William Oscar Burch, Junior In May 1944 he reported to the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, as the prospective Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga (CV-14). Upon that carrier's commissioning he became her Executive Officer. He served in her from May 1944 to June 1945 in the Pacific. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a third Navy Cross for heroic conduct as XO when the ship was hit by a suicide plane and bomb crashing through her flight deck; he directed the fire fighting though burned and severely wounded by shrapnel.



Posted May 6, 2004
Edward F. "Moe" Burtschy
Edward F. "Moe" Burtschy who served aboard USS Ticonderoga during World War II, and was a professional baseball player in the 1950's died Sunday of heart failure at Mercy Franciscan Hospital Western Hills. The Delhi Township resident was 82. Mr. Burtschy played one full season and parts of four others in Major League Baseball. His baseball card - No. 120 of the Bowman 1955 series, attests to that one full season - 1954, when he went 5-4 as a relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics with a 3.80 ERA, closing 30 games and appearing in 46. Mr. Burtschy - who ended his stint in the majors in 1956 with the Athletics - by then relocated to Kansas City . "He was real modest about it, but he pitched against Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams and all the great players of the 1950s," said his son Michael of Independence. "We are real proud of him." when the draft was instituted in September 1940, he enlisted in the Navy.He served for 37 months aboard the USS Ticonderoga, an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, during World War II. After his honorable discharge, he resumed playing baseball in the minors. He began his big-league career with Philadelphia on June 17, 1950, when he was 28. In his career, he appeared in 90 Major League games.






Posted Nov. 20, 2011
Robert E. Kinsey
Robert E. Kinsey passed away on June 2nd , 2011 at the age of 86. He served aboard the Ticonderoga as an aviation ordinance tech in 1944 to 1945. A prankster of sorts, he also played upright bass in the ships band and went on to work with noted Country artists little Jimmie Dickens and Rock n Roll artist such as Bail Haley and the Comets. Also an avid boater. Mr. Kinsey had many different variety of boats that he would buy and restore. Now with his fallen ship mates, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him







Paul Bernal
Paul J. Bernal, a Taos Pueblo Indian elder who helped recover some of the lands stolen from his tribe, died on July 16 2003. Cause of death was not released. He was 92. Since the 17th century, European settlers have encroached on Pueblo Indian lands. Then in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appropriated the lands surrounding Blue Lake in northern New Mexico, and annexed them into Carson National Forest. The Taos Pueblo Indians tried for decades to get their lands back from the U.S. government, but their efforts were stalled by a language barrier. Bernal volunteered to serve in the Navy, and was stationed aboard the USS Ticonderoga during World War II. He polished his English skills, and when he returned home, he became the Pueblo's interpreter and council secretary.With the help of Juan de Jesus Romero (Deer Bird), the Pueblo's religious leader, Bernal negotiated an agreement with the government for the return of the tribe's lands. The act was signed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, and gave the Taos Pueblos 48,000 acres of Carson National Forest to use for "traditional purposes."



Posted June 30, 2004
Donald Chester
Pickerington resident Donald Chester was a graduating senior in the truest sense of the word after collecting a diploma last month with 150 students at Meadowbrook High School in Guernsey County, Ohio, where he attended high school in 1942. Although he missed the benefits of a traditional graduation by receiving his diploma at 80 instead of 18, Chester said he wouldn't trade his experiences serving aboard the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier as head cook during World War II. "I loved the Navy, it was clean living," he said. "Your nose never got stuffed, the air was pure, no dust at all." The graduate said getting drafted to fight in a war is a scary experience, but he lived more history at sea during the war than he would have ever learned his senior year in high school






MM1 Seth Wilson
Seth Wilson was 16 on the day he enlisted in the Navy. His parents signed a notarized statement stating that their son was 17, which was the legal age to enlist. His father, a staff sergeant in the Army, figured his son, who had dropped out of school after the eighth grade, would do well in the service. Anyway, it was June of 1944 – most young men were enlisting in the service. After five weeks of boot camp, Seth joined the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga (CV- 14) and he worked pushing airplanes on the flight deck. He was only 100 feet down the flight deck when a kamikaze hit her. He stayed on board while she was repaired and returned to the Pacific on Ticonderoga till 'Operation Magic Carpet' brought the boys back home from the war. Seth also served in Korea and Vietnam. After serving on several ships, Seth retired in November 1973 as a Lt(OE-3) after 30 years of naval service retiring at the ripe old age of 45. God Bless America.




Posted 2/22/00
Donald LaFortune '44
He answered a call to duty in January 1944, leaving Cushing Academy just five months short of graduation to serve his country in World War II.
Donald LaFortune was 17 when he left Cushing for the Navy and his home in Ashburnham,Massachusetts for the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Ticonderoga where he saw eight major battles, including Iwo Jima.
Although he left Cushing in good stead as a student in 1944, Mr. LaFortune never officially graduated from the academy. But 56 years later, Mr. LaFortune, 73, was honored at a Feb. 21 School Meeting where he received his Cushing diploma and a class ring recognizing him as a member of the Class of '44.
Students and teachers met Mr. LaFortune with rousing applause and a standing ovation. "It was just something I had to do," Mr. LaFortune said in an earlier interview of going to fight in World War II.




Ken Platt, of Roanoke,Va.,passed away Thursday morning, June 6, 2002.
Ken and his brother enlisted in the Navy during World War II. Ken was 22 years old, and was assigned to the crew of a new Aircraft Carrier, the USS Ticonderoga. After the 21 Jan. attack Big T stopped in Guam for emergency repairs. Ken's brother, Dr. Ben Platt, had been assigned to a heavy cruiser, the Tuscaloosa, stationed at Guam. Ben was a Communications Officer and knew Ken was onboard the Ticonderoga. The brothers met and spent a week together. Ken was with the Ticonderoga until the end of the war. Ben remained in the Navy Medical Corp until 1967, a total of 25 years in the service.


  
ALBERT WILLIAM MILLHAM
JUNE 16, 1920 – SEPTEMBER 3, 2002(Temple City)- If you’ve spent any time at a Little League ballpark over the last forty years chances are you saw a tall distinguished looking fellow at an opening day ceremony. In later years you might have seen him with a District 18 cap on loaded down with pins, a cane, a smile, and a wave at his introduction to the crowd. He was genial, kind, and the definition of grandfather to everybody who longed to have one. He was full of encouragement, stability, and hugs. Al Millham, truly the heart and soul of the District 18 baseball, past away last week at his home in Temple City. “Al Millham was Little League baseball and Little League baseball was Al Millham, it was really hard to separate the two,” said Temple City National President Kristen Dearth. “It’s really hard to imagine us going on without him.” “He was Mr. Baseball,” said Jody Bush of South El Monte. “He touched a lot of lives in the San Gabriel Valley.” He served in World War II aboard the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Block Island and U.S.S. Ticonderoga, as an electrician mate. Upon his discharge in 1945 he went to work as a lineman for Southern California Telephone Company, later named Pacific Telephone. He retired in 1978 as a 2nd level manager, with 32 years of service. He married his bride of 57 years, Jackie, on February 25, 1945. Mrs. Millham was by her husband’s side until the end. They had three children, Kathi, Pat and Tom, seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren.



Ed MazurMMS3C Edward J. Mazur
— MMS3C Edward J. Mazur, 20, died January, 21, 1945. Ed was a machinist and was running to his battle station to help defend his ship and his country, when one of the two Japanese suicide planes hit USS Ticonderoga CV-14 that day. When the ship pulled into port after the attack, Ed's brother Joseph, who was also in the navy, boarded the ship in search of his brother and learned Ed was listed as 'missing in action'.
Born in 1924, Ed was the youngest of 12 children and grew up in New Kennsington, Pa. with his four brothers and seven sisters. Considered quite an athlete and acrobat, Ed also was very artistic and enjoyed doing pencil portraits. Before volunteering to join the navy, he worked for Westinghouse. For giving his time, and his life while serving his country, Ed was awarded the purple heart which is currently held proudly by his nephew Fred Mazur.





Wilton Warner,BOGALUSA - This week marks the 58th anniversary of the kamikaze bombing of the USS Ticonderoga on January 21, 1945. An 18-year-old Washington Parish boy, Wilton Warner, literally survived the attack by the cloth of his pants. He still has the naval dungarees that sport a fist-sized hole made by flying shrapnel, after he fled from the area damaged by the first Japanese plane to make a direct hit on the ship.
    When the draft notice came, Warner chose to enlist in the navy. He was sent to Boot Camp in Texas where he spent 9 weeks in training. I will never forget how huge that ship looked. I thought it was invincible," Warner admitted. "I thought with boats like that the war would be over in no time." When the ship prepared to join the Third Fleet in the South China Sea. "The Captain talked to the recruits assigned to the ship," Warner said. "He told us, ‘You're going to see bloodshed. Anyone who is not prepared for bloodshed will be released to go back to the Distribution Center.' No one left."
    Warner, who is being treated for cancer, spoke about his war experience in reference to the 58th anniversary of the bombing of the Ticonderoga. He said he has never told his story before because there are so many men who served longer and better, but he was willing to relive the horror of war in hopes that his story would help young people today understand just what war is all about.



Lieutenant John J. KelleyLieutenant John J. Kelley
— Lieutenant John J. Kelley , Killed in Action - January, 21, 1945. Lieutenant Kelley was sent to the Pacific after serving 18 months in the Atlantic Theater of War. At that time, he was ordered to report to the Commander of USS Ticonderoga for duty as Senior Air Ordnance Officer. .
Lieutenant Kelley was killed while trying to aide an injured man on deck during the 21 Jan. attack.
Lieutenant Kelley was buried at sea on January 22, 1945. He entered the service in March 1942 and was a graduate of Notre Dame University.
A Letter written personally by Capt. Dixie Kiefer, commending Lt. Kelley's courage and bravery was sent to his parents.





J. Burleson Smith
Known as "Burley" to his friends, J. Burleson Smith has called San Antonio home for the past 73 years and has practiced law there for the past 54. Smith served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, as a night fighter director on the aircraft carriers Ticonderoga, Hancock and Midway, in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. His job was to direct pilots by radio and radar so that they could take off and land safely at night. He was aboard the Ticonderoga, off the coast of Formosa, when it was hit by two Kamikaze pilots. The crash sparked fires and disabled the ship, which then had to be taken to port. He got his law degree from the University of Texas in 1940 and took a job the next year as a special agent with the FBI, where he worked until 1943. He says the work was interesting, but he doesn't recall many specific cases he worked on. "I couldn't talk about them if I did," he notes. Returning to San Antonio after the war, Smith got a job from his friend John Cox at the firm Seeligson, Cox & Patterson, which would later become Cox & Smith. He developed a general practice with emphasis on litigation, estate administration, and oil, gas and mineral law. Smith isn't trying cases anymore, but he still is in the office regularly. His son, James Burleson Smith Jr. - "Jamie" to friends - is a partner in the firm.





Anthony Peter Kowalski, 75, of Albuquerque, died Friday, Nov. 30, 2001. Born in New Bedford, Mass.,he served his country in World War II as a radar man aboard the USS Ticonderoga. After his retirement from Wheaton College in 1996, he moved to Albuquerque. His many activities included planning the Navy reunion of Ticonderoga Veterans to be held in Albuquerque in 2002. When diagnosed with a brain tumor just weeks ago, he said, "It's been a good ride." His last words before he left this life were, "I'm flying away."


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