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. They
said that when they met you, it was like they knew you their whole lives.
have friends in New York. IF you ever plan a trip here, you are welcomed
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 take to get him on-line. This is some step for him, I've been asking him to get on line for months now. He said he wants to write you so I should hurry up!!
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 teary over 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 with you. And all your hard work. It seems like you and Mike & family formed a lasting friendship. I feel the same way in the widow ladies I met for the first time. We will be in touch from now on I am sure, at least until we meet at the Florida reunion in 2000. Thanks so much for all your hard work on the tribute. Looking forward to seeing you again. Regards Mary Morris
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 email@example.com Thanking you in advance J. Knudsen -------------
SHIPMATES AND GUEST
BOULTON, ROBERT H
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 born in 1949 in Oakland, California, as were both my parents who taught me a great sense of pride for the City of Oakland and it's police force. Since many members of my family belonged to Oakland Police Department. I would like to thank you for your web site on the U.S.S. Oakland it makes me proud to have been born there and if you ever are looking for new members please let know. Michael Brock
Mike's e-mail address
SHIPMATE MEMORIALS THAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO VISIT
Admiral William K. Phillips
Rear Admiral Justin E. Langille III
F1c Joseph S. Velardi
Jack R. Hiday
Men working to keep WWII ship's memory alive.
By Corey Lyons
Joseph Velardi, a young sailor surviving
the daily rigors of World War II aboard
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.
The sailor, a fireman in the ship'sengine
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.
Henriott spent about 2½ yearssearching
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."
For the surviving relatives of Velardi
— who would have turned 77 on July 26 — closure
had been elusive. After the accident, only the crewman's hat ever
One 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.
"And Joe was Joe — he wanted to do his share and get it over with. We just sort of acclimated to the situation; it was war and we were fighting for our country."
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.
Raymond Ference, a machinist on
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.
While a few of the guys were talking,
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."
After an extended search of the
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.
"After coming back from Alameda,
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 and
is maintained by Paul D. Henriott
Last Updated 15 July 2000
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