World War II Veteran, D. Ralph Young

Erin Dickerson’s Prayer

God in heaven,

November is a time of falling leaves, trees becoming bare, browning grass and less sunlight in our day.  Just as in our lives here on earth, it is but a season.  And a season that includes a holiday designed around giving thanks.  While we know we have days with less light in our future, help us not to focus on the dark, but instead to have grateful hearts, focusing on our cherished memories and looking optimistically into the future.



  • Tom Novak announced that Avenue of Flags will be putting out flags for Veteran’s Day on November 9 and retrieving them on November 15. Please contact Tom Novak if you can help with either of these days. They need a lot more volunteers.
  • Debe Dockins said we need volunteers to bring soups and chilis in slow cookers hot and ready to go for tree delivery day at the tree lot on November 20th, 2021. You can also bring corn muffins, cookies, or brownies.
  • Jesse Gaither announced the next CNO 2.0 event is on 11/18/2021 at Loose Ends Brewery located at Spring Valley and 48.
  • Carol Smerz and Mike Bevis reported that on Halloween afternoon 60 kids came through the St. Leonard Haunted Halloween Trick or Treat Drive through. A big CNO thank-you to those who volunteered.
  • Christy Gariety, Adopt-a-Family co-chair, announced that she and Sue Jessee are accepting $50 gift cards at CNO lunches and on Christmas Tree Delivery Day (Nov 20) with activation code receipts from Kohl’s, Target, or Walmart to be given to families this holiday season. The cards need to be received by 11/29/2021. You may also mail the gift cards with the activation receipts and a note stating, “From Centerville Noon Optimist Member”, to Centerville Schools, Adopt A Family Program, 111 Virginia Ave, Centerville OH 45458. Email her if you send a donation.
  • Greg Griffin announced the tree lot will be open 11/26/2021. The shifts all end by 8 PM each evening. Please show up for your assigned shifts to help with one of your club’s major fundraisers.

Dates to Remember

  • 11/15/2021, 6 PM, Monthly Board of Directors Meeting
  • 11/18/2021, 5:30 PM, CNO 2.0 Meeting at Loose Ends Brewery
  • 11/20/2021, 8 AM to 11 AM, Tree Delivery Day, no need to sign up, please show up if available
  • 11/26/2021, The Tree Lot opens for sales to the public. Your Team captain will let you know when they can use your help

World War II Veteran D. Ralph Young

Debe Dockins introduced World War II Veteran, D. Ralph Young. Ralph is an engineer, author and has been a CNO Member since 1/23/2020.

From Debe Dockins:

In honor of Veterans Day, it’s only fitting that we welcome one of our own to tell his story. David Ralph Young was born in Kentucky in 1925. He volunteered for the Navy after his 17th birthday and was assigned in February 1944 to the U.S.S. J. Franklin Bell, surviving four D-Day invasions in the Pacific Theatres of Saipan, Tinian, Leyte, and Okinawa. He was discharged in 1946 (almost 3 years), graduated from the University of Kentucky, and went on to develop electrical power projects throughout the US, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. He was subsequently inducted into UK’s College of Engineering Hall of Distinction in 2006. That same year he lost his first wife Charlotte after nearly 60 years of marriage. In 2007 he married Janice and he credits her for the encouragement and help to author three books. Please give a warm welcome to fellow Optimist member and Veteran D. Ralph Young.

Presentation, World War II: The War in the Pacific

D.Ralph Young’s presentation was titled World War II: The War in the Pacific. You can view his presentation slides here.

Before he stated his presentation, Ralph asked for all WWII vets to stand up. There were three men standing in the room: CNO member David Duncombe, Ralph’s friend Francis Underwood and, of course, D. Ralph Young. Then he asked for all veterans to stand and we all clapped and cheered for the numerous CNO members who have served our country.

Ralph said he has had the most fantastic life anyone could hope for. He served with many brave and courageous soldiers. During the war, his mother constantly prayed for him. He has felt protected by God his whole life.

Ralph has two passions in life:  engineering and telling the world about what his fellow soldiers did to win the war in the Pacific.

Amphibious Personnel Attack Ships (APA)

Ralph served nearly three years on the USS J Franklin Bell (APA 16). An APA has 3 major roles:

  • Pick up troops at their base and land them on the island to be invaded.
  • Supply troops with material and equipment needed to meet battle conditions.
  • To accomplish the above, each APA would send in with the troops a group called “Beach Party” to make repairs to boats/guns and to move supplies and equipment away from the beach.

The Pacific Theater in WWII

Ralph showed a map from 1942 of everything Japan occupied after Pearl Harbor, which was an amazing amount of land in the Pacific. Japan’s plan was to continue to conquer. Japan was ominous in their aggression with 400,000 battle hardened soldiers and another 800,000 soldiers ready for battle. The struggle was figuring out how to fight the Japanese. FDR did not want to start a war with Japan until after the Germans were defeated but this changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  America decided to liberate the countries Japan was occupying.

The Pacific theater was 20 times as large as Normandy. The freezing weather causing frostbite killed almost as many soldiers as enemy fire did. In total, 104,000 men were killed, 200,000 were wounded and 6600 were missing in action (MIA). The war claimed 96,466,660 civilian lives.

Killed to Wounded Ratio

Japanese soldiers believed dying in battle for the emperor would give them immortality. The killed to wounded ratio shows how vicious and ferocious Japanese soldiers could be. They would rather die than retreat. For American Troops in Europe/Pacific there was 1 killed for every 3 wounded. For Japanese Troops in the Pacific there was 18 killed for every 1 wounded.

Soldier Outcomes in the European Theater Compared to the Pacific

A soldier in the Pacific theater was 5 times more likely to be killed than in the European theater, 3 times more likely to be wounded and 2 times more likely to become a POW. The rate of death in POW camps in Europe was 1%, while in the Pacific it was 40%.

Coastwatcher Sir Jacob Vouza of Guadalcanal

Coastwatcher Sir Jacob Vouza was a native of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. He and other coastal residents such as area farmers would watch the coasts for war activities and report over short wave radios to the Allies.

On August 7, 1942 Sir Jacob Vouza rescued a pilot of a USS Wasp that was shot down and landed in Japanese-held territory, where he met the Marines for the first time.

On August 20, 1942 Japanese soldiers captured Vouza and found a small American flag in Vouza’s loincloth. The Japanese tied him to a tree and tortured him for information about the Allied forces. He was tortured for hours but refused to talk. When the Japanese gave up, to reduce the chance of being heard by the Allies they bayonetted him and left them to die. He was stabbed in both arms, his throat, shoulder, face and stomach. Sir Vouza escaped by chewing through his ropes and made his way through miles of jungle to American lines. He was crawling at the end of his trek. He would not accept medical attention until he relayed that an estimated 250 to 500 Japanese soldiers were coming in less than 30 minutes. Sir Vouza received 16 pints of blood and spent 12 days in the hospital. Within a few weeks, Sir Vouza was back to coast watching. He was knighted by the Queen of England and there is a memorial statue of Sir Jacob Vouza in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The U.S. awarded him a Silver Star.

William O’Brien, a hero from the Battle of Saipan

William O’Brien from Troy, New York figured out American tanks were about to fire on their own troops. Radio contact failed, so O’Brien ran across an open battlefield under enemy fire. He used his .45 caliber pistol to bang on the turret to get the attention of the soldiers inside. He stayed on top of the tank until they were redirected. He came down from the tank, picked up a wounded soldier and carried him to safety.

This happened during Japan’s last effort with a banzai charge that involved 5000 men. O’Brien was fired up and running up and down the front-line shooting and shouting, “Don’t give them a darn inch.” He used all the ammo in his 2, .45 caliber pistols and he next picked up a rifle from a wounded comrade. After the rifle was empty, he ran to a jeep with a .50 Caliber Browning Machine Gun. After the battle they found O’Brien dead, but with dozens of dead Japanese troops around him.

Runway Able on North Field on Tinian in the Mariana Islands

After faking landings to confuse the enemy, the USS J Franklin Bell landed on Tinian. Coral on the coast made a normal landing impossible. It was Ralph’s job to position a barge over the coral so that men and jeeps could get to land.

The battle on Tinian started on July 24, 1944, and 8 days later 8000 of the 8800 Japanese troops on the island were dead.

Four months after the 8-day battle, Seabees build the busiest airfield in WWII on Tinian.

Runway Able on the island of Tinian should be the most historical airstrip on Earth. On August 6, 1945, the island of Tinian made history when the first of two planes took off from Runway Able, piloted by Colonel Tibbets, carrying an atomic weapon that was dropped on Hiroshima. On August 9, 1945, Major Sweeney left the same runway for Kokura but, finding clouds over Kokura, he went on to Nagasaki and dropped the second atomic weapon.

Ralph and his wife, Janice, visited Tinian Island in December, 2017 and found this historic airstrip covered in grass.

Currently Surviving World War II Veterans

There were 16 million American veterans of WWII immediately after the war. Currently, there are 170,000 veterans still alive.

Ralph thought for a while that he wanted to be the last vet standing from World War II. There are estimates from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that there may be WWII vets alive until 2045. Ralph is currently 96 years old and no longer believes he will be the last man standing nor does he want to be.

Japanese Surrender

The surrender of Imperial Japan was formerly signed on September 2, 1945 aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri.

Ralph described General MacArthur as a great General and a showman. Gun turrets on the USS Missouri were turned toward the signing table to make it feel that the surrender was done “under the gun.” It was already humiliating to have to sign a surrender on an enemy’s ship. MacArthur also made sure all the troops the Japanese walked by on the way to the signing table were over 6 feet tall.

Right after the signing, 400 – B-29’s and 400 – Hellcat and fighting planes all flew over the USS Missouri.

Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

The USS Indianapolis was FDR’s favorite ship to sail on and FDR toured South America on it. The USS Indianapolis delivered vital parts to Tinian to assemble 2 atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan. Soon after it left the island of Tinian the Japanese found the ship and fired torpedoes. There were direct hits to the fuel tanks. The ship sunk in 12 minutes and took 300 men with it. The remaining 900 sailors were left in shark infested water for days. The sharks claimed the lives of 150 sailors in the deadliest shark attack ever. Many of the surviving sailors eventually became desperately thirsty and started drinking the saltwater causing them to die from saltwater poisoning. Only 317 of the 900 who made it into the water survived. It was very sad since it all happened right before the end of the war.

Among the survivors was the captain of the Indianapolis, Charles B. McVay III. McVay was charged with failing to zigzag and failure to order abandon ship in a timely manner. He was convicted on the former charge.  The guilt of the loss haunted him for the rest of his life. On November 6th, 1968, McVay took his own life by shooting himself with his service pistol at his home in Litchfield, Connecticut. Following years of efforts by some survivors and others, McVay was posthumously exonerated in 2000.

On August 19, 2017, the ruins of the USS Indianapolis were located at a depth of 18,000 ft by the USS Indianapolis Project aboard the RV Petrel – a research vessel funded by American business magnate Paul Allen.

Thomas A. Baker, Troy New York

Another story of bravery is about Thomas A. Baker from Troy, New York. At a battle in Saipan there was a banzai charge and Baker was severely wounded and knew he was going to die. Baker had a medic prop him against a tree with a loaded pistol and a cigarette.  When the medic found Baker the next morning, he and 8 Japanese soldiers around him were dead and a cigarette butt was clinging to his lip.

Thank You D. Ralph Young

Thank you, D. Ralph Young, for sharing your experiences and stories from World War II and presenting, “World War II: The War in the Pacific” You can read about Ralph’s previous presentation to CNO on 11/5/2019 here.

New Member Readings and Inductions

NameSponsor1st 2nd 3rd Reading or Induction
Tom YoungDebe DockinsInduction

Welcome Guests!

GuestGuest Of
Janet DixonRalph Young
Alan ElovitzRalph Young
Frank GillandRalph Young
Sally GillandRalph Young
Debbie PenceRalph Young
Fred PenceRalph Young
Mark PolingStan Fronzaglia
Dennis SmithBob Collins
Brian ThomasRalph Young
Danielle ThomasRalph Young
Francis UnderwoodRalph Young
Tim UnderwoodRalph Young
Janice YoungRalph Young

Happy Bucks

Jesse GaitherDaughter at OU is finalist for the Margaret Boyd Scholar Program.

Sergeants at Arms

Tom NovakWhen he announced the Veterans Day Flag delivery Tom said it was in 2 weeks instead of 1 week.
Bob BurkmanPaying for a raffle ticket with quarters, The sergeants hate that!
Ellie ParkerTook two lanyards at first for her name tag.
Jerry StahleyAt a recent UD basketball game he sat in the wrong seat for the first half.
Scott LangerScott tried to fine someone when his term was up.
Don MassieShowed everyone up at the Haunted Trail by taking 5 laps each night.
Jesse GaitherAll papers were printed double sided so the sergeant did not have a blank piece of paper to write on.
Patrick ArehartHe did not return his name tag to the box after last week’s meeting.
Anyone who did not graduate from Miami UNot being a graduate of Miami U of OH. Current sergeants Diane Arehart and Jane Fiehrer are both MU grads.

Membership Anniversaries

Bob VogtNovember 8, 200516


Wendy HattanNovember 2
Robin GoldenNovember 4
Judy McFaddenNovember 6
Drew MckenzieNovember 6
Charlie TappNovember 6
JoAnne RauNovember 7

CNO Donations – 2013 through September 2021

Click here to see a summary of donations the club has made since 2013

Thank You Notes Received

CLICK HERE to see the Thank You Notes the Club Received this Week

Links to PowerPoint and Pictures

A Copy of this Week’s Meeting PowerPoint Slide Deck is here

The photos taken at Today’s Meeting are here.

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