In Memoriam - U.S. Navy Minemen




MN1 Victor David "Vic" Dawson

 MN1 Victor David "Vic" Dawson
 (July 9, 1950 - January 1, 2012)

Victor David "Vic" DAWSON of Waterford, Michigan; age 61; peacefully at home on January 1, 2012. Devoted husband of Sue Dawson. Father of Derek (Cheryl) Hill. Brother of Donald (Phyllis) Smith, Jack Dawson and Jayne Dawson. Victor was a proud Veteran of the US Navy, having served in Vietnam the the reserves for a total of 27 years. While in the reserves he served with the MOMAG 1913. He worked at the Bulk Mail Center for the US Postal Service in Allen Park. Visitation : Family will receive friends Tuesday from 3:00-8:00 p.m. at our Waterford location. Funeral Service : Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 10:00 a.m. at  Coats Funeral Home – Waterford.
Interment and military honors will follow at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan

Memorial donations may be made to Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.



MNCM Ernest S. Hildreth

MNCM Ernest S. Hildreth
16 January 1930 -
10 January 2012)

MORVEN, NC MNCM Ernest S. Hildreth (USN RET), 81, died Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Funeral services will be 3:00pm Saturday, January 14, 2012 in the Chapel of Leavitt Funeral Home, Wadesboro with Rev. Stephen Shytle and Rev. Ray O’Ferrell officiating. Interment with full military honors will follow in New Hope United Methodist Church Cemetery in Morven.

The family will greet friends Friday, January 13, 2012 from 6:00pm until 8:00pm at the funeral home.

Ernest was born January 16, 1930 in Anson County, NC a son of the late Julius Seabern and Sarah Margie Broadaway Hildreth. He was a veteran of the United States Navy, retiring after 22 years of service with the rank of Master Chief Mine Warfare Instructor.

Following his naval retirement, he enjoyed working as an agriculture instructor for Anson Technical College, for the bowling alley in Monroe and most of all being a farmer. He was an avid farmer, gardener and bowler. A devoted husband to Myrtle Lee Gaddy Hildreth for 49 years, she preceded him in death May 17, 2000. He was also a loving father, grandfather and brother.

Surviving are his daughter and son-in-law, Cyndi and Chris Shumaker of Concord; his grandchildren, Jason Maness (Shelley) of Morven, Melissa Maness (Daniel Mower) of Peachland and Christopher Shumaker (Krissy Karr) of Concord; and his great-grandchildren, Josie Maness and David Furr.

Also surviving are his brothers and sisters, Clayton Hildreth of Monroe, Laura Pope, Virginia McSwain and Linda Hildreth all of Polkton, Thelma Carpenter of York, SC and Jewel Deese of Rockingham and his sister-in-law, Emma Jean Lowery of Lake Tillery and his nieces and nephews and their families.

In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters, Coy, Harrell and Sylvia Hildreth and Mildred Johnson.
Memorials may be made to New Hope United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund, % Mrs. Lib Tucker, 1338 Mayesville Rd., Morven, NC 28119.

The obit is at:

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Robert "Bob" B. Andersen

Robert "Bob" B. Andersen
1 April 1933 - 26 January 2012)

Robert "Bob" B. Andersen left this earthly world for Valhalla on Jan. 26, 2012, leaving his best friend, wife, and love since 1951, Patricia "Pat" Andersen. Bob was born April 1, 1933, in Minneapolis, Minn., to Otto and Anne Andersen and married Pat on Feb. 23, 1953, in St. Thomas Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Their children are Bill (Rosa) Andersen of Eugene, Ore., and Tom Otto (Donna) Andersen and Carrie McCarthy of Klamath Falls, Ore.; grandchildren Angelic (Mike) Reed of Fort Lewis, Wash., Kyle Otto (Amanda) Andersen and Kalla Andersen of Klamath Falls, Christina Bassett-McCarthy of Klamath Falls, Alyssa (Ken) McCue of Mountain Home, Idaho, and Nicholas (Misty) McCarthy of Norfolk, Va; great-grandchildren Jasmine Brock, Isabella, Cortney, Ethian, Justyn, Jeremiah, Elizabeth, Serenity, Connor Otto, Zaydin Robert, and Ellyse Patricia.He is also survived by his sister Betty Solberg of Mission, Texas.He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, and two brothers. Bob served as a mineman in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict and later attended Oregon Institute of Technology. He retired in 1992 after 36 years as a machinist with Weyerhaeuser Co. He enjoyed camping, reading, shooting, collecting old movies, and his family. At Bob's request, no services will be held. After private cremation, the wind will carry his ashes to places he enjoyed with his family throughout his life here on earth. Friends are welcome to call at the family home. Any commemoratives are requested to be sent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or Klamath Humane Society.

A guest book has been provided for expressions of condolence at:




James L. Stultz

Jim & Martha Stultz

Jim Stultz at retirement party with Nanci

James L. "Gunner" Stultz
(17 September 1931 - 9 February 2012)

James L. Stultz 80, of Indianapolis, passed away February 9, 2012. He was born September 17, 1931 in Monroe County, IN, to the late William W. and Lois L. Arnett Stultz. Jim served his country in the U.S. Navy where he flew airships, retiring as Chief Warrant Officer. He married Martha Jewel Stultz, and she preceded him in death. After retiring, Jim was employed at Sears Roebuck & Co., Washington Square Mall, as the Men's Store Manager. He was a member of the Association of Mineman, an avid golfer, and loved spending time with his family. Visitation will be Sunday, February 12, 2012, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Shirley Brothers Fishers Castleton Chapel , 9900 Allisonville Rd., with funeral services Monday at 11:00 a.m. Jim is survived by his children, Richard (Susie) Stultz and Nanci (Bob) Miller; 10 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and siblings, Don Stultz and Judy Burgess. A son, William Stultz, also preceded him in death.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Published in the The Indianapolis Star on February 11, 2012

NOTE: My last phone conversation with "Gunner Stultz" was pleasant as were all contacts with him. I was really shocked by his passing. He frequently sent an e-mail, thanks me for some of the material that others contributed. As a 5-year member of AOM,





Robert "Bob" Pricer, Jr.

Robert "Bob" Pricer, Jr.
(30 March 1943 - 10 February 2012)

Robert "Bob" Pricer, Jr., 68, of Williamsburg, died on February 10, 2012. He was born in Pittsburgh, PA, March 30, 1943, to the late Robert Pricer, Sr. and Frances Pricer. Bob joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, proudly serving as a mine ordnance specialist. He retired after 29 years of service at the rank of CWO 4. Bob considered himself quite the computer geek who greatly enjoyed technology. He loved birds and wildlife and enjoyed woodworking and building things. He was also an avid hunter. Bob loved spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Margie Pricer; children, Mark Allen Pricer (Jeane), Robert Doyal Pricer (Angela), and Sheline Lampart (Carl); grandchildren, Connie, Sean, Kayla, Kateland, Haley, Remee, Chealsey, Amanda and Troy Jacob; and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Troy Shawn Pricer. Bob's family welcomes guests to visit the home of Robert and Margie Pricer on Thursday, February 16. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made in Bob's memory to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301, Attn: Gift Processing or  Online condolences may be expressed at


Frederick N. "Fred" Manzie

USS Texas (BB-35) as it appeared in August, 1942 when Fred was aboard.

Frederick N. "Fred" Manzie
(22 May 1922 - 18 February 2012)

WILLIAMSBURG - Frederick N. "Fred" Manzie, 89, died Feb. 18, 2012. He was born 22 May 1922 in Newport News, VA, and enlisted in the Navy on 19 June 1940. He mustered on board his first duty station, the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) on 17 September 1940 and continued to serve on active duty for the next 20 years. Following his Naval service, he worked for the Department of the Navy for the next 30 years. He was preceded in death by his wife, Agnes (Mansico) Manzie who passed away on 27 Jan 2008. A memorial service was be held at St. Bede Catholic Church and interment took place in Arlington National Cemetery, alongside his wife. [Published in Hampton, VA Daily Press from March 26-27, 2012]

(News of Fred's passing was received too late to obtain more information)




Hilding 'Hank' Nelson

Hilding 'Hank' Nelson
 (7 January
1943 - 29 February 2012 )

Hilding "Hank" Nelson, 69, of Panama City, passed away February 29, 2012 in his home, after a brief battle with stomach cancer. Hank was born on a farm near Greeley, Colorado in 1943 and was always working from a young age. In his senior year, he served as the class president, won a prestigious science award from the National Science Foundation, participated in athletics and graduated Valedictorian from Ault, CO in 1962. He then went to Colorado State University, and graduated, with highest Honor, in Physics. After graduation in 1965, he moved to Panama City, FL and started his 38 year career at the Navy Mine Defense Laboratory, where he became an expert in acoustic detection of underwater mines and mine counter measures. Throughout his career Hank represented the Panama City Navy Lab and the U.S. on both national and international panels, often to Brussels, Belgium for talks with NATO. He had a passion for sailing, with adventures to Port Charlotte, the Keys, and the BVI. He also loved Disney World, Belgian chocolate, classical music, Broadway musicals, NFL football, and conservative politics.

Hank is survived by his wife of 42 years, Susan Nelson of Panama City; his two children, William and wife Jenny of Columbia, SC, Ingrid of San Francisco, CA; grandchildren, Claire and Henry; sister, Adele Ramstetter and husband Joe of Greeley, CO and large extended loving family. He is preceded in death by his parents, Delbert and Lillie Nelson. A celebration of life service will be held Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM in the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church with Father Steve Bates officiating. He will be interred March 22 in Greeley, Colorado. Those who wish may make a donation to Covenant Hospice, 107 West 19th Street, Panama City, Florida 32405, in Hank Nelson’s memory. He was a man of a few words, quiet and caring. He will be remembered for his strong work ethic, beautiful blue eyes, kind heart, and quick wit. Hank and his family thank all for their love and support.

A guest book is provided at:




Leroy R. "Lee" Engbe

Leroy R. "Lee" Engberg
 (18 May 1921 - 21 March 2012)

“It seems like a lot of funny things have happened to me in my life.”

Lee’s introduction to the U. S. Navy is definitely one of those funny things. When he enlisted in San Francisco, he says he was sworn in with his fellow recruits, while a bus waited outside. It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

“I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. There was a little restaurant across the way from the recruiting station. I went over there to get something to eat, and the bus pulled out without me. So, I guess I’m AWOL the first time I ever joined the Navy.”

But for Lee, in the end, things usually turn out right. He says that when the bus left him behind, he got out on Highway 101 and hitchhiked to San Diego, beating the bus into town. Engberg waited while the other recruits were getting off the bus. They were finally followed by the old Chief Petty Officer who was in charge, and who ‘knew’ Engberg was not among the recruits who had ridden the bus.

Lee says he walked around the bus and up to the Chief, and: “He turned around… and that’s the first time I’ve seen a Chief Petty Officer that didn’t know what to say.”

Born May 18, 1921 in Atchisen, Kansas, Engberg did most of his growing up in Boone, Iowa. When he came of age, Lee joined the National Guard, but in July of 1941, he chose to enlist in the Navy.

Engberg says he had a good time in boot camp. Next, he went through training in "AO", Aviation Ordnance. This training would serve him well throughout his career, but in the meantime, he was needed as an aerial gunner on SBD dive-bombers and, later TBF torpedo planes.

In the former aircraft, the gunner faced toward the plane’s tail in an open cockpit, manning a pair of .30 caliber machine guns on a ring-mount. In the latter plane, the gunner was in an electrically operated, plexi-glass turret mounting a single .50-caliber machine gun. The TBF carried a pair of 250-round cans of .50-caliber ammunition for its rear turret. Both gun arrangements were sighted through a ring sight and, “whenever the wings filled a certain part of that ring,” says Lee, “then, you opened fire.”

Fortunately, Engberg had developed marksmanship while growing up on the farm. ”With my old .22, I could hit anything that moved,” he says, and that included hunting quail, with their erratic flying patterns.

Lee says it was common practice on his Avenger for radioman and gunner to switch positions on a mission, as it was dreadfully boring for a radioman to sit down below in the fuselage where he couldn’t see much of what was going on.

“Mr. Brookshire used to call back every so often and ask ‘Which one’s where?’

In March, 1942, Engberg was aboard the carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), when it left Long Beach, California en route to the Pacific War, but soon transferred to its sister ship, USS Saratoga (CV-3), in VT-12. When the Saratoga docked in San Diego, VT-12’s crews were brought by bus back to the Bay area.

“We got here and found out the pilots had flown the planes into San Diego, where we had just left.”

Bussed back to San Diego, Lee says he was among the gunners standing along the runway while the squadron’s pilots practiced landings. The gunners, yet to be paired with pilots, were sizing up the men who would be flying them into battle.

“Some of them came in and made nice landings. But here came one in - - hit, bounced, bounced - - took off again and went around. He did the same thing the second time.”

According to Lee, all 18 gunners watching said, in unison, “Engberg, that’s gotta be your pilot.”

The pilot’s name, William Brookshire (Lt., USNR) would become a household name for the Engberg family in years to come. Lt. Brookshire, not much older than Engberg, hailed from Meridian, Mississippi He had a heavy Southern accent, of which Lee recalls, ”When I first flew with him I couldn’t understand a damn thing he said.”

Lt. Brookshire was always telling the younger gunner what to do, and what not to do. Lee really liked him, and later on when he was going across the country during his Navy career, Lee would stop to see him.

Bomber and torpedo crewmen were kept separate from their pilots, and Engberg says that was to prevent them from getting to know each other too well. Lee told a story of his unique communication with Mr. Brookshire on one anti-submarine patrol:

“We were going out to relieve the guy who was doing the figure-eight (over the carrier). I didn’t know whether Mr. Brookshire had had any booze or not, but he just didn’t seem normal that day.”

Engberg suspected something was amiss when Mr. Brookshire failed to properly relieve the other TBF that had been flying patrol. Then his suspicion was confirmed.

“Can you believe that within about nine minutes from take-off, that man was sound asleep? The radioman tried to wake him up, I tried to get him…”

“So, my gun was on my left side, facing aft. I turned the turret all the way around, put it alongside him and fired about ten rounds. He came to.”

Lee says that during their time together, Mr. Brookshire took very good care of his crew, bringing them each a bottle of whiskey when they all went on R&R. However, the Lieutenant was quoted once as saying, “If I had to choose a crew all over again… I’ve got my doubts (about you two).”

Engberg remembers well the day he was heading back to sea after a week’s liberty at Espiritu Santo. He was bringing aboard a watermelon, though it was not exactly an ordinary, garden-variety melon. Lee had lopped off one end and hollowed out the melon to hold a bottle of whiskey Mr. Brookshire had given him. Toothpicks held the melon end in place.

“By the time we got in the liberty boat and back to the ship to go up the gangway, it was too rough. They were sending a guy down with a line to put around you to haul you up. An ensign, as Duty Officer, was ordering me to throw my watermelon away and I wouldn’t do it. I had captain’s mast two days later, got 180 hours of extra duty at one hour a day. That means you don’t go ashore until the 180 hours is completed.”

“Four days later, we’re on the same carrier getting transferred to the Saratoga, which had come alongside. We’re flying planes off the little jeep carrier. I had my 180 hours assigned to that carrier. Two days later it was sunk, so that cancelled my 180 hours of extra duty.”

Engberg’s first aerial combat came in the Battle of Santa Cruz. He recalls that some of the early missions involved attacking Japanese targets in one location and returning to the carrier, which then would steam at twenty knots for a full day before launching planes to attack another target. During a three-week period in 1942, the Navy’s South Pacific carrier fleet was reduced to only the Saratoga and the Enterprise.

“We didn’t want to do a lot of damage; we just wanted to scare the hell out of them, that’s all. We hit Surabaya, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. And one time, we started from around Sumatra for a run to the lower part of the Philippines, but that never did happen.”

“I never, ever visualized I’d do the things that happened in aerial combat. A lot of people think aerial combat is something that lasts a long time. It doesn’t. You fly into the target, you come around in a torpedo plane… and it feels like you’re actually in a car. It’s because the pilot is getting the plane set, rpm’s and everything else. When he starts his run, he doesn’t want to be doing anything except for adjusting the throttle and the stick.”

Engberg graphically emphasized the need for a torpedo plane to fly absolutely level, as close to the water as possible, for the last 3,000 yards to a target. Deviating from a flat, low course would cause a torpedo, when it hit the water, to put it on too deep a path toward an enemy ship.

When VT-12 flew missions in the Bonin Islands and the Solomons, and the first mission against the Japanese naval stronghold at Rabaul, Engberg was sitting in the turret behind Mr. Brookshire, guarding against enemy aircraft bouncing them.

“We went in against one hundred Japanese Zeros. We had 24 F6F fighters, 36 dive-bombers and 18 torpedo planes. That was the day fighter tactics changed. The fighters used to go down with us, but that day they stayed above us. They engaged the Zeros, which gave us very clear runs except when you came out. Then they were there to greet you.”

Engberg says that for he and his shipmates, there was frequent amazement some Navy planes ever made it back to the carrier. The VT-12 Squadron lost 8 crewmen in 2 days.

“I came back one day and was way away from my airplane, going down to my quarters, when someone came and got me and wanted to know if I was all right.

“I said, ‘yeah, I’m all right.’”

“He said, ‘Well, come back and look at your airplane.’ ”

“There was bullet-proof glass in the turret, and five 7.7s (7.7 caliber bullets) in it. I knew it. I guess I was just too scared or something to know if I had been hit or not.”

Of the randomness of destruction and death in naval aviation, Engberg remembers one TBF that came back with a single bullet hole in between the pilot and gunner, the projectile that made it having fatally pierced a photographer between the eyes. And there was another plane that had been riddled with more than 200 hits. Remarkably, its crew was unscathed.

Another of Lee’s close brushes with an accident happened in a TBF taking-off, just as the carrier got a submarine alert. Engberg says a carrier skipper gave any other activity low priority when the ship was under potential threat by an enemy submarine.

“We had just got the tail up and the ship started a hard starboard turn. It takes a little while for that old rudder to get started, but when it does… well, all of a sudden we just started bouncing, as we headed toward a 5-inch gun mount on the port bow. We blew one tire, I guess, when it twisted, we hit the gun mount.”

Engberg says his TBF did some severe crabbing as it clawed its way into the air.

Yet, according to Engberg, that event took a back seat to another weird incident on the Saratoga involving a Dauntless dive-bomber taking off.

“You could land planes on the carrier on the stern or on the bow. The carrier had arresting gear on both ends of the deck. This SBD had gotten just to the end of the runway on takeoff and his tail hook dropped. He got up in the air and he had enough speed that it pulled the tail section right off.”

Fortunately, both the pilot and the gunner were rescued from the water after the plane dived into the drink. Yet the only record made of the incident was some tiny writing in a bottom corner of a page in the ship’s log. Engberg says the next time the Saratoga went into port, the arresting gear on the bow - - a holdover from the days when biplanes, with lower weights and speeds, could more easily land on the carrier - - was promptly removed.

When it came to liberty, Engberg can confirm that most stories of wild sailor activity generally held kernels of truth. Occasionally, sailors even missed the boat heading back to the Saratoga when their leave had ended.

“Everybody did their job right. But when you had the time off, you didn’t know whether you were coming back, what you were going to do or anything. There wasn’t anybody to tell you what to do or what not to do when on liberty.

In his fifty-four combat missions, Engberg had to bail out of an airplane on two occasions.

“The first time was coming back to the ship. We were about 3,000 feet up and we weren’t sure what hit us. It tore a hole in the SBD. We already had our chutes on and weren’t far from the task force.”

A Navy destroyer spotted the pilot AP (it wasn’t Lt. Brookshire on the SBD) and Engberg bailing out and left the fleet to scoop them from the ocean.

The second time Lee had to bail out was on a special night mission. Engberg was in the turret of his TBF and his pilot and radioman were at their respective positions. The TBF was at about 18,000 feet when its engine seized. Sporadic antiaircraft fire might have been the culprit, but Lee believes the engine just stopped working.

Engberg says he always practiced getting out of his turret - - his first drill of clipping on his parachute, exiting the turret and slipping out the starboard aft door of the Avenger took him more than one minute. Through practice, he chopped down his exit time to twelve seconds. He not only checked to make sure his survival kit in the life raft was fully equipped, be he also had painted his parachute hardware bright silver, so that in the moonlight he’d be able to see to quickly clip it on.

On the pitch-black night the TBF’s engine seized, Lee says he coolly went for his parachute:

“I just snapped it on, didn’t bother about anybody, went for the door and went out. Both the pilot and radioman went out later than I did. I caught a wind current one way and they caught one the other way.”

“They were picked up three days later, or maybe sooner, I don’t remember. I was in the water in my life raft from six to eight days. And believe it or not I only lost four pounds.”

Engberg lived by eating small fish he was able to grab while sitting in his life raft. No fishing hook was needed to bring those fish on board.

“I’d cut ‘em up and get the guts out of them. Then I put them in my parachute and beat the hell out of them and wring them, and drink the juice. I got sick the first four or five times. But if you’re bound and determined you’re going to live, you’ve got to do it.”

During the days alone in the life raft, Engberg saw many ships on the horizon and a few planes high in the sky. None of them saw him. He says he carried a prayer his mother had written for him, a prayer asking God to look out for Lee, from above, below and on each side. It’s a prayer Engberg still carries with him today.

His rescue came in rather a surprising manner, by the crew of a British submarine.

“I didn’t know if it was British, Japanese or what. But I could smell the diesel fuel. It was getting dark, so I waited until it got darker and then paddled my little one-man life raft around to the opposite side they (the submariners) were sitting on. Well, when you hear a Limey speak, you know what it is.”

Lee describes the British sailors as being very calm…guessing they must have expected him in the life raft to make the end-run on them. He says that though the submarine’s galley was filthy and cockroach-ridden, he was treated like royalty while he was aboard.

Engberg’s experience in aviation ordnance ended up extending far beyond maintaining and firing the machines guns of dive- and torpedo-bombers. He worked with bombs, rockets, torpedoes and underwater mines.

“To make things safe, you’ve got to really watch the people you’re working with.

I had an experience where I was working on a mine one day, when an ‘officer-in-charge’ came over to tell me what I was doing wrong. I responded by telling him the mine hadn’t gone off yet”.

“He wanted me to go over and work on someone else’s mine that they were putting together, and I said no.”

The officer insisted Engberg go, telling him it was a direct order.

Engberg stood firm, responding, “Even if it was God Almighty giving me the order, I’m not working on that mine, until he tears it all down and I start all over. Because, I don’t know whether he’s done it right, or not.”

During his two combat tours in the Pacific, Engberg hit two Japanese Zero fighter planes. The battle was so furious, who knows what happened! The pilot of an F6F said he hit them also! Presidential Unit and Individual Citations were given to Lee for his mission at Rabaul Harbor. Lee spent the final year of the war in Florida, training aerial gunners, which brought its own fair share of interesting adventures.

Among those was a “mass evacuation” of SBD gunners, an accident that seems hilarious in retrospect. As he tells it, he was riding as an observer in a TBF on a training flight, while stationed with a squadron in Pearl Harbor.

“They’d been practicing gunnery, when this one plane caught fire. He told his crewman to bail out. What he didn’t realize was he was on the air when he told his gunner to bail out. The other 11 crewmen also went out.”

Engberg says that because the pilot had used the radio instead of the intercom to only his plane, all the gunners in the squadron heard the call to jump and reacted.

Long antisubmarine patrols in PBY Catalinas and PBM Mariners conjure many later memories for Engberg. Since his squadron (based at Norfolk) was responsible for patrolling the East coast from Newfoundland to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, these missions frequently lasted a full day. He says some months he flew as many as 110 hours.

Long hours of patrol combined with the weather to aggravate and threaten Engberg’s crew on more than on occasion.

One experience came when an anchor buoy broke loose during a rainstorm. On a nighttime flight, Engberg says, the Mariner had landed with a bad engine.

“The PBM is not hard to maneuver with one engine. We broke loose from the buoy, and I sat in front of the cockpit and behind the forward turret with an Aldis lamp. The chief was on the flight engineer’s panel. I think it was the chief radioman operating one sea anchor and another crewman on the other sea anchor.”

“To help turn the plane, you’d drop the port sea anchor out and it fills with water, turning the plane to the left, or you drop the starboard sea anchor and it turns it to the right. But if you’ve got a dead engine and you try to turn- - like, the port engine was live and the starboard was dead - - it’s hard to turn into a live engine. You’ve got to cut the live one back to make the turn.

“If they had stopped and done what they should have done… they should have put the propeller into reverse pitch. That could have tuned it to starboard, or backwards, really fast. We later practiced doing that, and it really worked.”

Another East coast patrol proved a little more harrowing.

Lee says his PBM was the second aircraft in the pattern to return to Norfolk, Virginia NAS, when they were suddenly caught in a snowstorm. The tower waved off their landing, so Lee’s PBM pilot took the amphibian back up into the blue sky on a course for Cherry Point, North Carolina. Concern began to grow for how much fuel the plane still had, and Engberg checked the flight engineer’s panel to see what the tanks were reading.

“Only one tank was showing a white line. The rest of them were all showing red.”

The gauges would turn a lighter shade of red when fully empty. Engberg said the flight engineer told him to watch for that to happen and relay the message so the tanks could be switched. He estimated the plane had another forty minutes of flying time.

“We were 140 miles from Cherry Point, and a PBM flies at 140 miles an hour. So figure that one out. We came into Cherry Point, and at the other end of the runway you could see the snowstorm coming down. We hit the runway, rolled on, and just about 30 seconds after we hit the runway the starboard engine cut out.”

Retiring in 1969 with 28 + years duty in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, mostly on aircraft carriers, Engberg received the Navy Certificate, in 1971, for 30 years of active service! Following the Navy Lee worked 15 more years with the Fruehauf Trailer Corporation in Oakland with a pension from the Auto Mechanics Union. The Retirement Plaque given him in appreciation for his service at Fruehauf says, “To an A-1 Mechanic ... who always said: “If a Man Made It I can Fix It!”

Asking Lee about the USS Saratoga, you’ll probably evoke the strongest show of pride a career navy man can ever show. He’ll tell you that CV-3 was never sunk by the enemy- - that it only met its end in summer of 1946, when the U.S. government used it as part of the target fleet for the nuclear bomb test at Bikini atoll. And, he’ll add that the carrier today still sits upright under 140 feet of water in the atoll.

This year, Lee Engberg is honored by his induction into the prestigious ‘American Combat Airman Hall of Fame’, at the C.A.F Headquarters in Midland Texas!

LeRoy R. Engberg, USN (Ret.), Petty Officer 1st Class
Veteran Combat Aerial Gunner, Aviation Ordnance Expert, WWII, KOREA & Vietnam

* Born 18 May 1921 in Atchisen, KA, but grew up in Boone, IA
* Enlisted in NAVY July 1941, after earlier time in National Guard
* Trained as an "AO", Aviation Ordnance, but selected as aerial gunner on SBD and TBF
* Left Long Beach, CA March 1942 aboard USS Lexington, enroute to Pacific War, but soon transfered to the USS Saratoga in VT-12 flying in SBDs and TBMs
* First aerial combat in Battle of Santa Cruz, added to Bonis Islands, Solomons, Rabaul, ...
* Shot-down two Japanese Zero fighter planes; completed fifty-four (54) combat missions
* Bailed-out twice; first time picked up by a destroyer; second time by a British submarine after many days alone (ten to eighteen days--records lost) floating in tiny raft
* After two combat tours in Pacific, spent last year in FL training aerial gunners
* Aircraft he flew-in included the SBD, TBF, SB2C, PBY, PBM
* Retired from NAVY in 1969; received Navy Certificate for 30 years of active service
* Served in WWII, KOREA and Vietnam and almost entirely on aircraft carriers
* Following Navy career, served 15 more years with Fruehauff Trailer Corp. in Oakland
* Elected in 2006 to the prestigious American Combat Airman Hall of Fame!

Lee Engberg, Navy Combat Veteran of Three Wars, Patriot, Valued Member of GGW-CAF!
Note: Lee last spoke to the GGW way back in October, 1993!

Courtesy of <> Copyright Commemorative Air Force, Inc.

A Guest book has expired but Lee's wife survives him and would probably appreciate a card of condolence.

Pauline (Mrs. Leroy R.) Engberg, 862 Cherry Way, Haywood, CA 94541 - Tel. # (510) 278-4670



Myrtis "Bootsie" Day Santa Maria

Paul & Myrtis Santa Maria

Myrtis "Bootsie" Day Santa Maria
(12 September 1927 - 1 April 2012)

Mrs. Myrtis Day Santa Maria, 84, died April 1, 2012 at her residence in Barefoot Bay, FL.

She was born in Detroit, Michigan and lived in Barefoot Bay for 11 years coming from Nipomo, California.

She was employed by various companies in California as a Purchasing Agent in the electronics field.

She was a Life Member of the VFW Auxiliary Post #2814, Atascadaro; CA, member of the American Legion Auxiliary #136 Arroyo Grande, CA; member of the Women of the Moose #1767 Sebastian, FL; Life Member of the Italian American Club of Sebastian, FL; member of the Homeowners Association, Barefoot Bay, FL.

Survivors include her husband of 29 years, Guilio Paul Santa Maria of Barefoot Bay; daughters, Lori Gottlieb of Woodland Hills, CA, Tracy Valencia of San Louis Obispo, CA; 3 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund, 4450 W. Eau Gallie Boulevard, Melbourne, Florida 32934.

SERVICES: Visitation will be 4 to 7 PM April 3, 2012 with a prayer service at 6:30 PM. Interment will be at Templeton Public Cemetery, Templeton, CA.





Frederick C. "Fred" Dane

Frederick C. "Fred" Dane
 (22 June 1931 - 15 May 2012)

Frederick C. Dane, age 80, passed away on May 15, 2012 while in the hospital. He had been battling multiple issues from Renal Failure, COPD, and since April 12, Pleural Effusion, Hypoxia and an undiagnosed problem associated with Mesothelioma. His daughter, Lorraine was present at his bedside aiding him as he went peacefully from this world to the next.

Frederick was born on his grandparents farm in the town of Pendleton, OR. Old friends and new also knew him as "Fred."

He is survived by his two sisters Joanne Lovelace (Willard) of AR, and Kathy Oberholtzer of OR; step-daughter Catherine Hardin of HI; three children Ramona of CA, Lorraine Boyer (Rodney) of PA, Frederick Jr. (Yolanda) of NV. And, during his retirement Frederick found great joy visiting his grandchildren: Marie-Cathleen (PA), Michelle Giovengo (Michael) of PA and five great-grandchildren: Alex, Cassie, Dom, Crystal, and Catalina (all from PA). He was preceded in death by his parents, and wife Mary J. Dane

Frederick enlisted with the US Navy in 1948, at the age of 17. His career took him to Alaska, Virginia, Hawaii, California, Japan and finally Charleston, SC. He attained the Naval rating of MN1 (Mineman First Class) and retired in 1968 with an Honorable discharge.

After retirement, Frederick attended San Jose City College and received an Associate in Arts Degree: Electronic Technology. He later attained a job at the college and retired after 15 years of service.

In his personal time, he enjoyed working outdoors and helping those in need. He also had a passion in the development of a Mineman Association web page which is located at: Other interest included being a member at the local Senior Center. His hobby was flying remote control airplanes.

Cremation services are being provided by Neptune Society of San Jose, CA. Frederick's cremains will be taken to his daughter's home in Pennsylvania for future burial in the Veteran's National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

Like my father, I'm painfully stubborn to accept help And, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to visitors, and care helpers during this time.

A guestbook has been provided for friends and shipmates to sign at:

[Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on May 20, 2012]

As I noted in a prior post, Fred was the first AOM webmaster and he kept it up to date right up to the end. Visit it at:
Fred also posted a special to a tribute to his wife, Mary:




Bobby J.C. Notgrass

Bobby J.C. Notgrass
(20 September 1937 - 25 July 2012)

Asheville, NC - Bobby J.C. Notgrass, 74, of Asheville, died on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.

A native of Eastland, TX, Mr. Notgrass was born September 20, 1937 and was a son of the late Herman and Ida Mae Thomas Notgrass. He was also preceded in death by sons Timothy and Tommy Notgrass.

Mr. Notgrass was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving during the Vietnam War and Korean Conflict. He later retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer with the Minemen's Division. He was also a member of the Mason's and of the VFW while he lived in Texas.

Mr. Notgrass is survived by his daughters, Teresa Notgrass, and Tammy Notgrass; sons, Robert Notgrass, Kenny Notgrass, and Richard Ray; grandchildren, Amber Demos, Easton Notgrass, Michael Floyd, Casey Floyd, Jonathan Floyd, Timarie Vasquez, Ayako Notgrass, Leilani Notgrass, Junior Notgrass, Jessica Ray, and Chris Ray; sister, Lea Alexander; and his companion, Sue Hird.

Groce Funeral Home on Patton Ave., Asheville, NC is assisting his family, and the online register is available to sign at

NOTE: Probably more shipmates knew OF Bobby than actually knew him. He was a fellow North Carolinian and shipmate who served at NOF, Azuma Island, 1956-58. He was a legend and was well known for his many instances of "unconventional extra-curricular activities." He was fun to be around and never failed to amaze his fellow shipmates with his antics. His proclivity for riding trains in the Yokosuka area formed many of the legends for which he was well known. A year older than me, I shall never forget Bobby and will miss him dearly.

John Iwaniec had this to say: "I am very sorry to hear about Bobby Notgrass passing. Bobby was my Sea Daddy during my first deployment to Glenn Douglass Scotland in 1972 and again in Souda Bay Crete in 1973. He was a true professional who treated his sailors great and took care of us. I will never forget him, he was a true Chief and sailor. God Bless him and his family."



Lyal Maurice Stryker

CDR Lyal Maurice Stryker
(27 July 1930 - 19 September 2012)

CDR Lyal Maurice Stryker, US Navy, Ret., 82, of North Charleston, SC, died Wednesday, September 19, 2012. A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 22, 2012 in the J. Henry Stuhr, Inc., Northwoods Chapel, 2180 Greenridge Road at 3:00 pm. A visitation will be held from 1:00 pm until the time of the service. Interment will follow at Riverview Memorial Park with military honors. Mr. Stryker was born July 27, 1930 in Ontario, Canada, son of the late Norman Stryker and the late Lena Wilson Stryker. He was a retired Commander after 30 years in the US Navy in logistics for mine warfare and a member of Midland Park United Methodist Church. He is survived by his son, Norman Stryker of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; daughters: Susan (Ronnie) Westbury of Givhans, SC, Sandra (David) Felkel of Pawleys Island, SC, Norma S. (Tom) Stever of Charleston, SC; grandchildren: Casea Stever, Sam Stever, Lauren Herring, Gabe Felkel, Jenna Westbury and Celia Westbury. Lyal was preceded in death by his wife, Doreen Stryker.
A memorial message may be written to the family at website at

Please sign the guestbook at

NOTE: The majority of minemen have either met Lyal Stryker of have heard of him. He was a co-founder of AOM and friend to many, from the youngest MNSN, to the Fleet Admiral. He was my instructor in Yorktown in 1956 and was as patient and friendly as any man I have ever known. In his later years, his participation in AOM matters dwindled but he will be long remembered and missed by all whose lives he touched.

Re-upping Phil Beckwith, 1963

Mine Conference,

Born July 27, 1930 in Toronto, Canada.  Enlisted as a seaman recruit September 21, 1948 at Niagara Falls, New York, was inducted at Buffalo, New York and attended boot camp at the Great Lakes.  Reported to the U.S.  Naval Schools Mine Warfare, Yorktown, Virginia for Mineman Class "A" School.  Following A school remained in Yorktown for the Mine Operational Servicing Course where he learned how to set up advance mine bases (J-ll Units).  In June 1949 reported to the U.S.  Naval Ammunition Depot, West Loch, Oahu, Hawaii.  Returned to Yorktown for Class "B" School in 1952 and upon graduation was ordered to the staff of commander Mine Flotilla Three, based in Sasebo, Japan and operated off Wonson, Korea as part of the blockade and escort force. 

Following the tour in Korea he reported to instructor school in San Diego and upon graduation reported to Yorktown as an instructor.  He was an instructor for the Mines Mark 6, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25 and 36, as well as instructing basic electricity and electronics.  Promoted to MNC (A) in January 1957 in Yorktown and later that year reported to the U.S.  Naval Minecraft Base, Charleston, located at the foot of Calhoun Street.  Was involved with the move to the new base located on the south end of the current Charleston Naval Base.  Commissioned Ensign, LDO, January 1960 and reported to the Naval Air Facility as the Mines Officer where he served for three and a half years and was instrumental in having a new mine assembly facility built on Senaga, Shima.  From Okinawa he reported to the Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown as the Waterfront Operations Officer.  Upon completion of this tour he was ordered to be the Officer in Charge of Mobile Mine Assembly Team (MOMAT) in Yorktown.  During this tour he was responsible for the movement of the mines and all equipment in Mildenhall, England (bomb dump) to Machrihanish and Glen Douglas, Scotland.  During this tour of duty MOMAT 0321 relocated to Charleston, SC.  His next assignment was back to Yorktown as the Fleet Liaison Department Head at the Naval Mine Engineering Facility where he participated in numerous mine readiness inspections around the world, including the "dirty dozen" inspection of Subic and Yokosuka.  Promoted to LCDR and assumed the duties of the Assistant Officer in Charge, NMEF.  In the fall of 1971 was ordered to Charleston to assume command of the Mobile Mine Assembly Group.  During this tour Minemen under his command were embarked on Seventh Fleet aircraft carriers where they did the final preparation of the mines laid in Haiphong in May 1972 under orders of President Nixon.  Following the armistice he participated in testing new methods of sweeping the mines we had laid in Vietnam waters.  In 1973 was ordered to the staff of Commander Mine Force, U.S.  Atlantic Fleet as the Mines Technical Advisor and was involved in the development of new mines Captor, Quickstrike and SLMM.  Was present when COMINELANT and COMINEPAC were merged as Commander Mine Warfare Force and later Commander Mine Warfare Command.  Retired October 31, 1978 with the rank of Commander and resides in North Charleston, SC.  Was the second "blue blood" Mineman to advance through the ranks to CDR.  He is also a cofounder of the Association of Minemen.  Wife Doreen died November, 1992.  Has three daughters, one son and five grandchildren.





Paul Horton

MNCM Paul Horton
(9 June 1945 - 22 September 2012)

Paul Horton, MNCM (USN, Ret.) passed away on September 22, 2012 following a long and painful decline in health. He was born June 9, 1945, the son of the late Charley Fay and Lucille Blackwell Horton. He is survived by two sisters, Helen Horton Johnson of Redding, CA and Joann Horton Koller of Little Rock, AR. His late brother, Lawrence Winston Horton, who passed away in 2002 was a Chief Aviation Machinist Mate in the U.S. Navy. Paul enjoyed his retirement with his wife Ann Horton before her decease in 2009, and with his family and many friends. He was loved by all and will be greatly missed. Interment for Paul will be at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery, Igo, CA, west of Redding, at a later date. Washoe Memorial Cremation & Burial will be serving the family. The Guest book can be signed at: THIS PAGE





Terry Michael Charnecki

Terry Michael Charnecki
(10 April 1947 - 18 November 2012)


Terry Charnecki, 65, passed away on Sunday, November 18, 2012 after a brief illness. He was born in Fairmont, Minnesota, a son of the late Michael Louis and Marie Theresa Korolewski Charnecki; A resident of Newport News for 28 years, Terry retired from the US Navy as MNC, where he was an Explosives Specialist.

Aside from his parents, Terry was preceded in death by his sister Barbara Charnecki. He is survived by his wife of 4 years, Alfreda Townes; sons Michael Charnecki and wife Theresa and Anthony Charnecki and wife Jennifer; daughters, Kathryn Wilson and husband James, Susana Charnecki and Kristina Charnecki; grandchildren, Brandon, John, Isabella, Sophia, Jocelyn, Patricia, Ashley and Zachary; brother, Gary Charnecki of Fairmont, MN; sister Karen Brammer of Saukville, WI.

A celebration of Terry's life will be held Monday, November 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contribution may be directed to Disabled American Veterans organization, Roanoke VA,

Arrangements are under the care of Parklawn-Wood Funeral Home, 2551 N. Armistead Avenue, Hampton, VA 23666.  Guestbook is at [




MNC Louis G. Godeaux, III
(30 January 1961 - 20 November 2012)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Louis G. Godeaux, 51, died Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at his home in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Louis was born Jan. 30, 1961, in New Albany, Ind., the son of Louis Godeaux and Betty Godeaux Collier.

He graduated from Rockville High School and attended Vincennes University and Indiana State University. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1984 and retired in 2004. In 1986, he received the Junior Sailor of the Year award. He served in Okinawa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, New Jersey and Corpus Christi.

Surviving are his mother, Betty Godeaux Collier and her husband, Bill, of Vincennes; three sons, Louis Godeaux IV of Virginia Beach, Va., and Tony and Jeremiah Godeaux of Corpus Christi; two sisters, Pamela Morgan and her husband, Paul, and Janet Donovan, all of Vincennes; three nieces, Amie Halter, Bridget Donovan and Anna K. Donovan, all of Vincennes; and three great-nieces, Hallei Halter, Courtney Halter and Madison Halter, all of Vincennes.

A military memorial honor service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Monday at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery in Corpus Christi Texas.



Chester Francis Broton
(2 December 1927 - 2 December 2012)

HOLLYWOOD, SC - Lt. Commander Chester Francis Broton, US Navy (Ret.), 85, of Hollywood, South Carolina, widower of Christine Prentiss Broton, entered into eternal rest Sunday, December 2, 2012. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, December 7, 2012 in St. Mary's Catholic Church, 4255 Highway 165, Yonges Island at 11:00 am. The Prayers of Final Commendation and Farewell will be held at Christ-St. Paul's Cemetery, Yonges Island with military honors. The family will receive friends Thursday from 5:00 until 7:00 pm with a Fleet Reserve Two Bell Ceremony at 7:00 pm in  J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. West Ashley Chapel, 3360 Glenn McConnell Parkway, Charleston. Chester was born December 2, 1927 in Syracuse, New York, son of Eugene E. Broton and Mary Jaroszewicz Broton. He was a retired Lt. Commander with the United States Navy and served in World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars. He was a Life member of American Legion Post 112, Branch #50 Fleet Reserve, V.F.W. 5091, Military Officers Association of America, Soloman Lodge #1 AFM, Scottish Rite Shrine and was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church. He is survived by his son, Chester F. Broton, Jr. and his wife Holly; two grandsons, Michael C. Broton and Travis M. Broton both of Charleston; a brother, Philip E. Broton of Syracuse, N.Y. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at Visit our guestbook at [Published in Charleston Post & Courier on December 4, 2012]
Toby adds: "Chester Broton was the CO of the USS Perigrine (Experimental Fleet Minesweeper, EMSF-373 ) that was used in a lot of our projects when Bill Roberts and I were at Key West Test & Evaluation Detachment. Chester was a designated MNSN when he first went in the Navy and was selected for the Officer Integration Program, which was a ‘straight line’ program. I don’t know where he may have served as an MNSN before going off to OCS.





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