USS OAKLAND CL/CLAA-95
50th Decommissioning Anniversary And Memorial
Roll Call Honoring Our Deceased Shipmates
1000 Hours 3 July 1999 Aboard
Coast Guard Cutter BOUTWELL (WHEC-719)
THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT
You made my
grandparent's trip very
special. My grandparent's love you all.
My grandmother said it
was a very
emotional trip, it was as if she finally went to Joe's
funeral. She got her closure, 55 years later. My grandfather had such a
good time. When I picked them up from the
airport, he asked me how long it would
Thank you for all that you have done for us. We are truly blessed to have met someone like you. Keep in touch please! Marcia T. Pearsall (Grand-daughter)
THANKS & THANKS
& EVER THANKS
Dear Paul, I am still
the USS OAKLAND's 50th Decommissioning Anniversary
on 3 July. It was so much more than I had expected. Thanks to you my
"Hoosier" friend and Mike. It was a dream of Mike's and came to life
And all your hard work. It seems like you and Mike & family formed
Lena LaRosa, widow, Joseph LaRosa
Dear Mr.Brock, My father Joseph LaRosa was a shipmate on the USS Oakland. He passed away on November 13, 1998. If he was here he would have attended the decommissioning ceremony on July 3rd. I would like to make a reservation for his wife and three family members to attend. Wife, Lena LaRosa and Mr. & Mrs. William Knudsen. If there are any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanking you in advance J. Knudsen -------------
SHIPMATES AND GUEST
Here is the young man that started it all. He is a real hard worker with young legs and ideas. Who wants to get the USS OAKLAND known to all the people of the Oakland area. If his plans continue at the present speed (Which is full speed ahead). That will be done come this 4th of July 1999. He should be known as the pride of USS OAKLAND and the city of OAKLAND.
THIS E-MAIL STARTED IT ALL
Dear Mr. Henriott, I was
1949 in Oakland, California, as were both my parents
who taught me a great sense of pride for the City of Oakland and
Mike's e-mail address
SHIPMATE MEMORIALS THAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO VISIT
Sifting throught USS OAKLAND'S history
Men working to keep WWII ship's memory alive.
By Corey Lyons
In it, the outgoing 20-year-old man disclosed that he would be coming home by November, after completinghis last mission near Guam.
But the next telegram to reach thefamily was a staggering one: Velardi had been lost at sea.
sailor, a fireman in
room, was one of only four men from
Commissioned in July 1943, the hulking anti-aircraft cruiser held about 700 troops when it was summoned to Pearl Harbor.
The 541-foot vessel played a crucialrole while patrolling the Pacific Ocean in World War II, for which it earned 12 battle stars.
But despite the USS Oakland's historical significance, friends, relatives and former shipmates of the deceased have spent decades trying to recover from their losses.
"No death of a human being is painless," says Paul Henriott, who spent nearly five years aboard the USS Oakland before joining the Army in 1950. "When it is your shipmate, it is very painful, even if you didn't know him personally."
Henriott, 73, knew Hiday very well. Each joined the Army in 1950; Hiday was killed in Korea Nov. 30 of the same year.
A former seaman gunner's mate striker with the USS Oakland, Henriott has spent nearly three years creating Web pages dedicated to the famedship and her crew. He has produced 185 pages to date, for which he has earned more than 200 awards.
2½ years searching
for Velardi's relatives after deciding to
Marcia Pearsall, Joseph Velardi's great niece, discovered the Web site one evening and promptly contacted Henriott. It essentially unlocked a vault to Velardi's life.
But relatives for Walker and Wall — the latter of whom was the lone sailor from the ship who actually lived in Oakland — have not been located yet.
On July 3, a 50th anniversary memorial of the decommissioning of theUSS Oakland was held aboard the Boutwell at Coast Guard Island in Alameda. As a 50th wedding anniversary gift, Sara and John Santora were flown to theBay Area from Far Rockaway, N.Y., by their offspring to attend the tribute. Sara is one of Velardi's four sisters.
"It brought it all back," says Sara via telephone from her home in Far Rockaway, where she grew up. "But my kids told me that if I didn't go, that I'd be sorry forever."
relatives of Velardi
— who would have turned 77 on July 26 — closure
had been elusive. After the accident, only the crewman's hat ever
of nine children
born to Nicholas
and Marianne Velardi, Sara was
When Joseph enlisted in the Navy, his family could do nothing but hope and pray that he would return.
"We were all in the same boat," says Sara, 76. "All of our neighbors and friends had relatives in the war. Everybody was just rearing to go.
The Velardis — a large, religious Italian-American family — have many painful memories inked on war's canvas. Marianne lost a brother in Europe during World War I, and one of Sara's sons, Frank Santora, lost an eye after being injured in Vietnam.
"When I got the telegram that he was hurt, I just said 'Thank God that he's alive,'" says Sara, who produced seven children with her husband, John.
Velardi's death was a freak accident. Some copper cable wires on which he sat snapped, and he plunged about 15 feet into the Pacific.
A rescue effort failed to recover his body.
"When all the boys were finally coming home after the war — and he wasn't — that's when it hurt the most," Sara says.
the USS Oakland during the war,
After breakfast, the sailors had met on the port side of the massive vessel to shoot the breeze before their 8 a.m. to noon shift inside the triple-digit engine room.
a few of the guys
Ference leaned against a sturdy pole.
Ference heard the wires snap, and Velardi was gone.
"When I took one look he was going away from the ship," says Ference, 76, via telephone from his home in Rockford, Ill. "And when I checked on him again, he was gone."
an extended search
area Velardi's cap was the only thing that
For Nicholas Jr., one of Marianne and Nicholas Sr.'s five boys, the loss was very personal. He had been serving in the Pacific during the same time that Joseph had. And a letter Nicholas had written to his brother was returned; the letter was accompanied by a reply from the Red Cross saying that Joseph had died.
After Velardi had been declared lost at sea by the Red Cross, Marianne, a devout Roman Catholic, suffered a heart attack, Sara says.
Mom never really recovered.
coming back from
I came home and I said 'Ma, I put your son
It made me think of JFK Jr. Thank God for that family that their bodies were found."
This web page was created by and
is maintained by Paul D. Henriott
E-mail me at email@example.com
Last updated 31 March 2005