Honor Flights and the USS Nassau

 I want to thank Harold Schmid’s son for informing me of his dad’s connnection to this historical battle. If you know of something historical you think I might be interested in please email me.

                          Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  By Navy time today is 6 June two thousand and twelve and America is alive and well but on this famous day in military history seventy years ago things were different. Our country was at war on 20 August 1942 when the converted jeep carrier USS Nassau was commissioned into the U.S. Navy.

Jeep carriers or baby flat tops as the press called them, were multi-purpose ships that became proficient at finding and destroying enemy submarines. Throughout the war the Nassau performed numerous naval duties including patrol and scouting assignments and escorting convoys in both oceans. During the Pacific ocean battles the ship and her crew provided air cover for amphibious landings and ferried replacement planes to the bigger, more glamorous aircraft carriers. The jeep carriers, known as “CVEs” by the Navy, were lightly armored and slow. They were never meant for straight up combat but on 25 October 1942 all that changed when the Nassau (CVE-16) was protecting some transports which were unloading in Leytz Gulf in the Philippines.

Admiral Takeo Kurita of the Japanese Navy had four big battleships and six heavy cruisers ready to pulverize the transports and the beachhead where the unloading operation was underway. Out gunned, the relatively tiny jeep carrier, along with two other CVEs and several smaller battleships attacked Kurita’s fleet saving hundreds of lives and tons of much needed supplies.

Launching their planes and creating as much smoke as possible, the jeep carriers harassed the enemy, dropping bombs and making scraping runs. Darting between the much larger Japanese destroyers, the lightly armed vessels launched torpedoes and fired their small 5” battery cannons, all in a desperate effort to save the harbor. The plan had been for the Navy vessels to give the impression of a much bigger strike force and it worked but not without sacrifice. Only 2 hours long, the battle claimed the lives of 1,100 US sailors, two jeep carriers and four small battleships on the way to making history as one of the Navy’s greatest victories in WWII.

Each year our nation salutes this generation of American heroes. In keeping with this tradition the Honor Flights network in Oklahoma sent several dozen WWII veterans to Washington D.C. today to view their memorial including long time Bartlesville resident Harold Schmid who served aboard the USS Nassau.

Honor Flights took its first group of twelve veterans to Washington to see the memorial in May 2005. Retired Air Force Captain Dr. Earl Morse had taken care of aging veterans for 27 years and he had learned that to a man they all wanted to see the memorial.  However for many veterans, their finances or their physical condition made the trip impossibility. With many of the aging men and women dying, Dr. Morse felt he had to act. He is a licensed pilot and he took this first group at his own expense. The rest is history. Last year over 18,000 veterans were flown to Washington at no charge, many in wheelchairs, to attend ceremonies that would make the toughest man cry. Honor Flights provides a twelve hour trip back in time for America’s heroes like Bartian Harold Schmid and all the others who served, whom we should never forget.

If you want to know more about the USS Nassau visit www.nav.source.archives or  www.wikipedia.org/USS_Nassau(CVE-16).

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road………….


One thought on “Honor Flights and the USS Nassau

  1. What a nice tribute, Dale! Thank you. Brought tears to my eyes all over again. I strongly encourage your readers to join a WWII Vet on an Honor Flight if they ever have the chance.

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