By NC1 Jason Neeley
Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 hosted several World War II veterans and their family members for a tour of the squadron and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft, May 9.
Navy veterans Richard Wallace, John Water and Frank Clark, along with their families shared their military experiences with VP-30 Sailors as they visited squadron divisions and learned about the transition of the P-3C Orion to the new P-8A aircraft.
Wallace and Waters both served aboard USS Arikara (AT-98), a fleet ocean tug, that conducted operations at Omaha Beach off the Normandy Coast and later in Okinawa, Japan, during the war. Clark served aboard USS Longshaw (DD 559) in the Pacific area of responsibility.
On May 18, 1945, the ship ran aground in the East China Sea. The USS Arikara set out to rescue the ship, however, Japanese shore batteries opened fire sinking the ship.
The casualties included 86 dead or missing, and 95 wounded crewmembers. Clark was one of the 113 crewmembers who survived the sinking of the ship.
His daughter, Mary Alice Clark, who has spent countless hours researching USS Longshaw and USS Arikara, shared newspaper clippings, photographs, documents and logs with VP-30 squadron members who met with the veterans to learn their stories and historical accounts of World War II.
According to Mary Alice, her father never talked much about the war or his experiences. As part of her research, she reached out to a Marine serving in Okinawa who recognized the USS Longshaw name and put her in contact with a veteran from the ship. After contacting the veteran, she learned that her father had saved his life using a belt and pocketknife to make a tourniquet on his injured leg. She eventually coordinated a reunion for them.
During the visit to VP-30, Commanding Officer Capt. David Whitehead thanked the veterans for their service and presented each of them with a command coin. Many Sailors in the squadron also stopped them in the hallway to offer their thanks and shake their hands.
Following the tour, the group enjoyed lunch at the Flight Line CafÃ© where they continued to enjoy camaraderie with active duty service members and sharing their stories.