Monday, February 19, 2018
Military News

WWII veteran recounts Pearl Harbor attack on 72nd anniversary

TAMPA — From his perch aboard the USS Maryland, Edward Socha witnessed a frightful scene.

Shrapnel flying everywhere, flames licking the surface of the water and ships swaying as bomb blasts roared.

"I gasped at the sight of the (USS) Oklahoma bottoms up," Socha said. "I watched the whole harbor just erupt."

As a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Socha shared his memories of the day with dozens who gathered at Veterans Memorial Park east of Tampa on Saturday to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the event.

Socha had been on his way to church that Sunday morning when the Japanese dropped the first torpedo.

"We thought it was some kind of drill," Socha said. "Probably done by the Marines because they are the only ones who get up that early in the morning," he quipped.

But when Socha saw the rising sun emblem on the planes, he realized what was happening.

Socha, who is now 92 and lives in Sun City Center, is one of only a few thousand witnesses still alive.

"About 84,000 people were there that day and there are only 3,000 of us left," Socha said.

To help preserve those memories, officials broke ground Saturday on a World War II memorial at the park that will feature several statues and brick pavers inscribed with donors' names.

In April 1944, Ed Dement's Army Air Forces plane was hit during a mission over Yugoslavia. He went down and was captured by German forces.

"I bailed out at 10,000 feet over the mountains and ran into a fir tree," Dement said Saturday. "I was injured quite severely and was captured after six hours."

Dement, now 89 and living in Temple Terrace, remained a prisoner of war for nearly a year.

At one point, he was placed into box cars with thousands of other men for three days and nights without food or water, Dement said.

In April 1945, Gen. George S. Patton appeared at his camp and within hours women from the American Red Cross were serving doughnuts and coffee, he said.

He returned home to cheering crowds within weeks.

In Tampa, those who weren't serving in the war were at work supporting it, said George Howell III.

Howell's grandfather owned the Tampa Ship Building Co. Hundreds of people, from women to high school students to retirees, built 76 ships for the Navy during the war, Howell said.

The company also maintained or repaired another 500 ships in that time, he said.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

 
Comments
Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

TAMPA — Army Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas III, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, had a court-side epiphany last July at the United Center in Chicago while watching the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games. So impressed w...
Published: 02/19/18
Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

On May 12 and 13, the skies above MacDill Air Force Base will be busier than usual, with Navy F-18s, Air Force F-22s and A-10s and a host of civilian stunt pilots performing impressive feats of aerobatics.It’s all part of the semi-regular Tampa Bay C...
Published: 02/16/18
VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general ...
Published: 02/14/18
Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

President Donald Trump’s proposed military budget includes a nearly 11 percent spending increase for U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.The measure, if approved by Congress, would bump up the command’s budget by 1...
Published: 02/12/18
Everyone loves a parade? Veterans say the troops don’t.

Everyone loves a parade? Veterans say the troops don’t.

Orders from President Trump to plan a grand military parade showcasing the might of America’s armed forces has set off groans in some military quarters.The troops, it turns out, hate parades."There is not a soldier ever alive who loves a parade," sai...
Published: 02/08/18
Troops laud the low-flying ‘Warthog,’ but it’s running out of time and money

Troops laud the low-flying ‘Warthog,’ but it’s running out of time and money

AVON PARK From the cockpit of his A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet, a pilot speaks words known to warm the hearts of U.S. ground troops under fire."I’ve got 100 rounds 30 Mike Mike," says the pilot, seeking permission to let loose a short burst from t...
Published: 02/05/18
Updated: 02/08/18
Game show app to feature Super Bowl message that NFL rejected

Game show app to feature Super Bowl message that NFL rejected

TAMPA — Former Marine David Shimkus calls it a "slap in the face to veterans" that the NFL rejected a bid to place an ad in the Super Bowl program asking fans to stand for the national anthem.So as a senior executive with Largo-based media company Re...
Updated one month ago
Howard Altman: MacDill is classroom as Niagara Falls unit learns in-flight refueling

Howard Altman: MacDill is classroom as Niagara Falls unit learns in-flight refueling

To people in the Tampa area, the old, gray four-engine KC-135 Stratotanker jets have been a familiar sight since the mid-1990s, when MacDill Air Force Base shifted from fighter training to aerial refueling.But the planes are new to the folks up at th...
Updated one month ago
Plans for $148 million housing tower finally approved for Haley VA hospital

Plans for $148 million housing tower finally approved for Haley VA hospital

TAMPA — Long-delayed plans for a new $148.6 million medical housing unit at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center have finally been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.The 245,000-square-building will be designed to provide 96 medical surgica...
Updated one month ago
A D-Day plane lost for years is about to fly again

A D-Day plane lost for years is about to fly again

It took two eagle-eyed historians to track down the plane that led hundreds of Allied aircraft into Normandy during World War II.A few years ago, the historical treasure was languishing in an aircraft boneyard in Wisconsin.The plane, a twin-engine C-...
Updated one month ago