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2013 Centennial

Remembering the fallen

There aren't too many of the 1200 M.S.T.C. V-5 and V-12 Navy men still among the living, so I thought it appropriate to dedicate an upcoming issue of Connections to the memory of all those who volunteered to serve in Uncle Sam's Navy during WWII.

I don't know how many of those from the Minot V-5 and V-12 programs were killed in the line of duty, but I know two who were killed during the war. One of the men in the V-5 group was killed in a flight training accident in the Minot area.

The other fatality I learned from a previous Connections issue when Erling Podoll, (Aberdeen, S.D.) wrote that his roommate, Telford Morgan, did not survive the sinking of the "Indianapolis," one of the greatest naval tragedies of WWII. The "Indy" had just delivered parts for the two atomic bombs to be dropped on Japan, to Tinian Island. Podoll helped unload these parts off the "Indy" onto the island.

These two bombs dropped on Japan were what finally convinced Emperor Hirohito it was futile to continue the bloodbath on his people and Americans, and it was necessary to surrender.

After delivering the bombs to Tinian, the "Indy" was steaming towards the Philippine Islands when she was sunk by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine around midnight July 30, 1945. Of the approximately 1,200 men on the ship, only 300 were rescued out of shark-infested water five days later. The ship's whereabouts had fallen through the cracks and wasn't missed until planes luckily spotted the survivors. This incident is recorded in the book "Out of the Depths" by Edgar Harrell, USMC.

After leaving Minot, a good number of us went to other universities and finished officer-training requirements. Some stayed in the Navy for 20-30 years. One of my first roomies rose to rank of full Captain and skippered a ship during the Vietnam War. Those of us who returned to civilian life ran the gamut of occupations and professions. Many of us became teachers, lawyers, doctors and architects. Bud Hoeffel returned to Minot after completing his architectural studies in Oregon and designed the International Inn (now known as the Grand) across from Minot's airport.

In addition to those who became naval officers and served in the Korean conflict, a large number of us were called back into the Navy during that war. Those are a few of the reasons the V-5 and V-12 men deserve special recognition in Connections.

I contacted Erling Podoll and we spent over an hour rehashing our lives since leaving Minot. I'm still in contact with a few of my old navy comrades, including Jim Rabideau of Pasco, Wash., who wrote a story about Pioneer Hall. Incidentally, those fire escape stairs on each end of Pioneer were also handy for sneaking back into the building after lights-out.

Just think - the entire roster of 800 represents the approximate total number of sailors who went into the water July 30, 1945, only 300 of whom survived.

Ralph Rees
Fillmore, Calif.