Eugene “John” Manson
90 years old
Born in 1924 in Battle Creek, Iowa
Currently living in Armstrong, Iowa
U.S. Navy World War II Veteran
World War II had been raging for over two years, when Eugene Manson joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. Following basic training and a stint at the Navy's radar school in Bremerton, Washington, Manson boarded the newly commissioned aircraft carrier USS Shipley Bay (CVE-85) as a 3rd Class Radarman. Manson, along with 860 officers and enlisted shipmates, and 28 aircraft headed to the Pacific Theater ready for battle against the Japanese forces.
“We were right there in the middle of it,” Manson remembered. The Casablanca-class escort carrier was positioned off the coast of Okinawa for the assault on the island. She remained there, except for a brief trip to Guam for repairs, between April and June 1945, while her planes flew hundreds of strikes in the Okinawa offensive. “Between May 7 and May 17 1945, our planes and pilots flew 352 combat missions,” Manson boasts.
“I was very happy during my time in the Navy, but I was in long enough and wanted out,” he said. “They should have dropped the (atomic) bomb a lot sooner.” Manson was honorably discharged from the Navy on March 11, 1946 and headed back to Iowa. “I'm very proud of the fact I was in (the war) to help us stay free.”
After playing a little baseball and basketball for Westmar College in Le Mars, IA, Manson returned to Ringstead, IA in 1946 to begin his 38 year teaching and coaching career at the old Ringsted High School. “It was a good thing I was winning ball games, or they'd kicked me out a lot sooner,” the Navy veteran joked.