U.S.S. Nicholas Veterans hold reunion here

Tue, 10/13/2009 - 4:17pm
By: Carolyn Cary

Eight World War II veterans that served aboard the USS Nicholas DD47 held a reunion in Fayetteville recently.

Guests of host Huie Bray, they saw the sights of north Georgia and discussed, once again, their adventures aboard the ship that carried the Allied officers to the USS Missouri to sign the peace treaty ending World War II in August, 1945.

Their ship was a Fletcher-class destroyer launched in 1942 at Maine's "Bath Iron Works." She was decommissioned in 1974.

It is the second Navy ship named for Samuel V. Nicholas who had served as the first Commandant of Marines in 1776.

The Nicholas was the first ship into Tokyo Bay after the Japanese surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945. It made contact with the Japanese Navy to ascertain pertinent information for the United States Navy to safely enter the harbor. It picked up Japanese interpreters and harbor pilots to bring about safe entry.

She served as the flagship of "Destroyer Squadron 21" and earned 30 battle stars in three wars.

For action in the Solomon Island in 1943, and many of the veterans at the reunion were on board, the ship was awarded one of the first Presidential Unit Citations.

Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey Jr. sited the Nicholas and her twin sister, O'Bannon, to be present in Tokyo Bay for Japan's surrender "because of their valorous fight up the long road from the South Pacific to the very end."

On the day of the signing of surrender, the Nicholas was one of 1,100 ships that could be seen from the USS Missouri. One Japanese officer was heard to comment, when seeing this armada, [it was probably just as well we surrendered as] "we couldn't have fed them all."

While the numbers attending the reunions have dwindled from the ships compliment of 335, to a dozen due to reasons of health, these veterans can relate day by day and island by island their war experiences, and they can also relate their pride in being able to do so.

Those visiting Fayetteville were: Guy Lane, Washington state, Nathan Hanson, Texas, Paul Bidlock, Michigan, Lloyd Blakesley, Minnesota, Warren Gabelman, Wisconsin, John O'Neill, Connecticut, Ed Carpenter, Alabama, and Huie Bray, Fayetteville.

Former city councilman, Glen Brewer served aboard the O'Bannon in the Korean War.

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