Brave American WW2 Crew Who Get Together Every Year To Remember Their Service

USS Emmons (DD-457) at anchor, circa 1942.
USS Emmons (DD-457) at anchor, circa 1942.

This weekend is the 71st annual reunion for the crew of the USS Emmons. Seven shipmates and their families, along with the families of their deceased crewmates, will gather in Portsmouth.

The Emmons was sunk during WWII in 1945. The surviving crew held their first reunion in 1953. Most of them are in their 90s now. They still look forward to getting together every year in a different part of the country.

Armand Jolly of Connecticut, one of the veterans of the ship, celebrated his 94th birthday recently.

Virginia Donnelly’s husband, Jim, passed away, but she still comes every year. She says that she considers these people to be part of her family.

When they started having the reunions, it was just a way for the guys to get together.

“There was a hiatus to take care of our families and make a living,” Ed Hoffman, Emmons quartermaster, and secretary of the Emmons Association, said. Now, though, the crewmembers make sure to get together every year.

The Emmons served as a destroyer in the European and Pacific theaters of WWII. It was converted to a minesweeper in 1944.

It operated in every major Atlantic and Mediterranean campaign with the exception of the Sicily and Italy landings, Sea Coastline reported.

On June 6, 1944, Emmons sailed in support of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. She was also there for the invasion of southern France in August of 1944.

On April 6, 1945, five kamikaze pilots struck the Emmons off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. 60 men died, 77 were injured. The survivors had to abandon ship. The following day, the Navy sunk the Emmons to keep her out of enemy hands. She lay at the bottom of the ocean for 56 years before being found in 2001 in about 150 feet of water.

The USS Emmons was awarded five battle stars and the Naval Unit Commendation.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE