Sep 3, 2011 1:01 AM by Matt Stafford

Local veteran recalls Pacific fight on V-J Day

On September 2nd, 1945, the Japanese were preparing to formally surrender to Allied Forces -- what's now known as Victory over Japan Day... or V-J Day. However, it was a long fight leading to that point.

"Boy, I was really young there," Harvey Visnaw says as he looks through pictures from his time in the service. During World War II, Visnaw was a Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. He finished boot camp not long before the attack at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in Dec. 1941.

Visnaw was only 17 when he finished boot camp; now looking back 66 years later, there's still a lot that stands out from World War II.

"That I did it -- and I was able to do it -- and still be here today," says Visnaw.

He was a cook, which he says wasn't easy on the rough waves of the Pacific, but back then everyone did a few different jobs.

"All cooks; their battle stations was on guns," says Visnaw. "They got to shoot the guns and load ammunition; they're not exempted just because they're a cook."

And he wasn't either; Visnaw helped move Soldiers and Marines into horrific combat -- sights that stick with him today.

"When the waves come in -- like they was doing (to) our ships -- everything came in; bodies and everything," recalls Visnaw.

Sometimes he said you didn't know what you were seeing, like one time when Visnaw saw a gun misfire and hit others on his side.

"You really didn't think nothing about it until it was over, and then you found out that three of them are your best buddies in small boats," says Visnaw.

But that part of the war came to a close 66 years ago; Visnaw's ship had just headed back for repairs when he heard the news.

"We were so happy; we just all got up and turned every table, every chair upside down on the way out the door."

It's something that's Visnaw is just as proud of to this day.

"When I was 19 I didn't think I'd ever see 20," says Visnaw, "and here I am, 87; so I got a little extra."

Visnaw also served in the Korean War as well as in Vietnam.


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