The PT Boat Forum

Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

Forum Name: PT Boats - General

Topic: Memorial Day

Recently I had the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was in Washington DC with some of my Middle School students. I was thinking about about PT Boat vets and how they served their country. I was thinking especially of three sailors that died the night my father was severely wounded on his PT boat one and a half miles off Shortland Island in the western Solomon Islands on the night of 12/13 November 1943.

Lt.( jg.) Joseph McLaughlin (Boston, Massachusetts) ExO (KIA November 13, 1943)
Arnold Beckett (Craig, Colorado) TM (KIA November 13, 1943)
Arthur Schwerdt (Hollis, Queens, New York) QM1c (KIA November 13, 1943)


Posted By: Nathaniel Smith | Posted on: May 23, 2010 - 6:52pm
Total Posts: 211 | Joined: Jan 19, 2008 - 6:55am

My dad is 90 years old. He never talked about his year in the Solomon's much to us kids. Combat isn't fun. Being bombed and shot at nightly isn't fun. War is not something a combat vet wants to glorify to his kids.

I have spent the last two years learning everything I can about his experience in Ron 9. I have learned how to research at the National Archives. I have sent 100 pages of emails to the only other surviving member of his crew who has lovingly answered all my questions ... thank-you Pat.

Every time I visit may dad we talk. I can talk with him with a lot of knowledge about what he experienced in 1943. Even more important ... he can talk with me. He has held in his stories, his fears, his memories, his regrets for 60 years. We both are enjoying this conversation immensely.

Thanks to this blog, the modelers, the vets, the 2nd Generation people I have opened up a line of conversation with my dad that will be paramount in my memory of him. We just never talked sports. While my dad loves to talk Civil War generals ... it has never been my interest. My brother loves to talk Civil War with him.

I recently brought my first cousin to visit my dad. He wrote me after the visit that he just loved to listen in as my dad and I talked details about Rendova, and Tulagli, Treasury and Lever Harbor. He told a chilling story about being straffed by our own bombers. My cousin never had this kind of dialog with his dad (my dad's brother) and he was very impressed.

I want to thank the vets on this blog who share their stories, the researchers who discuss the fine details of every question, the modelers who see the most minute details and the 2nd Generationers who share my interest. You have given me a chance to know my dad that I will never forget. You have given my dad a chance to know his son that he will never forget.


Posted By: Nathaniel Smith | Posted on: May 25, 2010 - 3:11pm
Total Posts: 211 | Joined: Jan 19, 2008 - 6:55am

Nat: I never talked about my experiences in the war until just the last few years. I was too busy getting an education and trying to get ahead in the business world. I just never discussed my experiences with other vets because they didn't want to talk either and most had it much tougher than me. This message board over the years has reminded me of incidents that I had not thought about since the Solomons. Sometimes I add my 2 cents worth on experiences brought up on this board. My son Randy is very interested in WW11 history and now asks many questions about PT's and the Navy. My older brother was a Master Sargent in the Army during the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Bronze Star. We we got home together after the war I asked him how he received the Bronze Star. He told me the story but said "Don't ever ask me again."

C. J. Willis

Posted By: CJ Willis | Posted on: May 25, 2010 - 3:46pm
Total Posts: 464 | Joined: Nov 5, 2006 - 5:02pm

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Posted By: Nathaniel Smith | Posted on: May 30, 2010 - 4:45pm
Total Posts: 211 | Joined: Jan 19, 2008 - 6:55am

A respectful salute to all past and present armed forces members that have helped keep the United States a free country.

I'm glad you and your father have this chance to talk Nat.

Posted By: Jeff D | Posted on: May 31, 2010 - 6:37am
Total Posts: 1977 | Joined: Dec 21, 2006 - 1:30am

As we sit back today and have our picnics, take our boats to the Lake, enjoy the day off from work, or enjoy the sales at the Malls, let us remember why we are doing so. It is because of our Veterans that have paid the price of freedom, paved the way for victory, and kept our Country safe from invaders. To all of our Veterans, let me say a big "THANK YOU" for what you have done. I SALUTE YOU and GOD BLESS YOU ALL. To my Uncle Clarenece Jospeh Andruss, who served with the Second Marine Division, and was killed on Saipan in 1944, I shall never forget the sacrifice you made, rest in Heaven brave Marine..................

Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: May 31, 2010 - 7:20am
Total Posts: 3205 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am