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The PT Boat Forum ª PT Boats of WWII ª  PT Boats - General

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 Author  Topic: Long Overdue Notice of Last Patrol for CJ Willis
Randy Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Dec 31, 2023 - 9:49am
My apologies for such a long overdue notice of the Last Patrol for my dad CJ Willis who died December 5, 2022 and fittingly was cremated on December 7. December and this week in particular are memorable for our family as on the night of 28 December 1943 his PT 242 had its close quarter gun battle with the enemy off the coast of Bougainville in which they were credited with sinking two Japanese barges while suffering machine gun damage that passed inches under CJ in his port twin 50 turret and setting fire to the torpedo warhead nearby. He has recounted that story and many others here for our enjoyment as many of you know.

The other notable December event was that almost a year after the gunbattle and sailing 85 or more patrols his PT 242 crew were discharged en-mass and after finding their own way home to the mainland he proposed to my mother and married her on New Years Eve 1944.

What you do not know is that for seven long years in the early 2000’s he was the sole caregiver for her during her long illness with a variant of ALS. Due to his meticulous 24-7 care she never spent a day in the hospital. For seven years he spent almost all his time at her side with the upside being that he was able to be active on his computer and this message board sharing his experiences.

We were blessed that his mind was sharp as ever until just a few weeks before his passing and that at his service the Navy provided us with a memorable honor guard and flag folding in front of one of his carefully constructed models of PT 242 nicknamed “Celeste” after a New Orleans acquaintance of some of the crew and with a painting of her on the side of his port turret just like the real 242.

He loved his PT boat service and his brother crewmen who spent over a year together. His service gave him the chance to complete an engineering degree at the University of Kansas and begin a long career in structural steel design in Oklahoma. He and I were blessed to be able to visit Jerry Gilmartin and others in Portland in 2011 and ride on the 658 down to the Oswego boat show. That experience even surpassed our Honor Flight to Washington DC a few years later.

Were he here today he would tip his World War II Navy cap to all of you who he regarded as true friends who provided him with an opportunity to relive some of the best days of his life.

Best wishes to you and Happy New Year!

Randy Willis

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Dick

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dick   Send Email To Dick Posted on: Dec 31, 2023 - 10:29am

Randy . . .

Very sad news.

Please accept our sincere condolences, his wit, humor, and historical information on PT boats and life as a whole, will be very, very missed.

May he find peace with, fair winds and following seas.

Dick . . .


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  TED WALTHER

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TED WALTHER   Send Email To TED WALTHER Posted on: Dec 31, 2023 - 6:27pm
Randy;
Heartfelt condolences to you and your family. C.J. is missed by all of us. He was one of the best, and an outstanding representative of “The Greatest Generation “. I had several opportunities to email him, to ask him questions about his service on PT 242 (Which he told me was named after a “professional lady” in Panama, that one of his crew mates met on Liberty) and as always a very detailed response was waiting in my inbox within 24 hours.
Once I asked him about the PT 237 accident at Lambu Lambu Cove, and he answered via email, but also sent me hard copies of PT 242 after action reports and the bio of Skipper Alpine McLane, in the mail, which arrived at my home about a week later.

I am retired Navy and if I could travel back in time, I would have been proud to serve on PT 242 with your Dad.

Take care,
TED


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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jan 1, 2024 - 9:50pm
Hello Randy,
I speak for the entire crew of the PT658 in offering our condolences to you for your amazing father. All of us aboard the 658 have fond memories of both you and CJ coming aboard for that morning trip to the Lake Oswego Boat show. I still look fondly upon it as a token of a great time. CJ was one of my favorite PT Boaters that I have ever known. He told us so many wonderful stories and answered so many questions we had. He seemed to be having a great time as he sat there inside the 50 cal gun turret as we "patrolled" the river of that sunny morning. Thank you for sharing your Dad with us, we will never forget him!
Please tell your family to feel free to return and visit the 658 anytime in the future as our special guest. We all miss him.

Jerry Gilmartin
PT658 Crewman
Portland OR

Jerry Gilmartin
PT658 Crewman
Portland OR

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jan 1, 2024 - 10:04pm
Here are some pics I took on that day in August 2011.

CJ and PT658 President WW2 PT Boater Maury Hooper
pczkw.jpg

CJ mans his old battle station on Port 50 cal gun turret
pc01c.jpg

CJ and his son Randy and Jerry aboard PT658
pcPmT.jpg

CJ, Randy and Jerry manning the 40mm Bofors underway in downtown Portland Oregon aboard PT658
pcSet.jpg

Randy mans his Dads old Battle Station, the Port 50cal gun turret aboard PT658
pc2S3.jpg


Jerry Gilmartin
PT658 Crewman
Portland OR

Total Posts: 1479 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 11:16pm | IP Logged


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