How do you say thank you to a World War II veteran? You could walk up to the vet wearing a hat or a symbol that identifies him or her as a World War II vet, smile, shake their hand and say, “Thank you for your service.”
If I told you about a 5-foot, 6-inch, 127-pound 17-year-old 1940 high school graduate who joined the U.S. Navy on Dec. 2, 1940, would you be impressed? If you knew he graduated from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center on Jan. 18, 1941, and was assigned to the USS Nevada, BB36, would you be impressed more?
During the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the Arizona exploded as the Nevada passed. This 18-year-old sailor witnessed some of his shipmates on Nevada’s open deck die from searing debris from the explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona. For four years and five months he performed his assigned duties while the U.S.S. Nevada sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The following is a quote from “Swift Wings of Death” by Charles T. Sehe.
“In the early pre-dawn of March 27, 1945, it was the U.S.S. Nevada’s second date of infamy, a mortal wound by one suicide plane that came in low on the starboard side and crashed on the main deck aft near #3 main battery turret. The forceful explosion sent up a fiery flame upwards and left a gaping hole in the deck, exposing a crew’s living quarters below. Flying shrapnel raced throughout the starboard 40 mm quad mounts and 20 mm gun sites, killing seven Marines and five sailors and wounding, over 55 personnel with burns and multiple shrapnel fragments ... It really did not make sense to this now seasoned gunner that this Japanese pilot chose death to serve Japan’s need for victory, for I was fighting in this damn war in order to live and to return home again.”
Charles’ closing comments are, “Today, the graphic images and the stench of the carnage strewn over a wide area caused by those suicidal attacks in 1945, remain indelibly etched in the troubled minds of those naval veterans who survived the closeness of such ordeals.”
Charles T. Sehe was that 17-year-old sailor who bonded with his U.S.S. Nevada shipmates. He has never visited the Battle Born state. At 92 years, Charles has a short bucket list: fly from Minnesota to Reno, visit with and have his picture taken with Gov. Brian Sandoval, visit the memorial on the east side of the Capitol Building, visit the Nevada State Museum to view the U.S.S. Nevada’s artifacts, and return to Minnesota.
Charles and his wife have three of their adult children living with them. Unfortunately, his wife and those three adult children have serious medical issues and are financially dependent upon Charles. When he travels to Nevada, he requires an adult caretaker to assist him.
You can show Charles some Nevada hospitality, “the best in the West.” I’ve made my donation. Please join me and donate to the Charles T. Sehe Fund Account No. 6998187071 at Wells Fargo Bank, 2424 S. Carson St., Carson City 89701, 775-885-1111. Our goal is to raise $2,300, fly Charles and his caretaker to Reno on Oct. 13, tour Carson City on Oct. 14, attend the Outstanding Serviceperson for the month of October ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on Oct. 15, and fly to Minnesota on Oct. 16. Battle Born — Battle Ready!
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.
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