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Veteran recalls time during WWII
by Angela Spencer
November 14, 2012 10:00 AM | 1651 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Timpe says he’s not a hero, just a man who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, but his service makes him part of the Greatest Generation.

“There were no heroics involved with me. There was no medals, none of that,” he said. “The fact that I got home safe, that’s what counted.”

Timpe served on the USS Bataan after joining the Navy at age 17. Before heading out to the Philippines, the USS Bataan stopped in Pearl Harbor where enemy forces either sunk or damaged 30 U.S. ships just a couple years before.

“When we came to Pearl Harbor we had some time to go to where most of these ships had sunk,” Timpe said. “When you stood at the dock you could still see bubbles coming up.”

The USS Bataan spent its time in the Pacific Ocean Theater, and Timpe saw plenty of action in the war including the Battle of the East China Sea.

“While all this is going on there’s a lot of noise – orders and so on – and you don’t listen to that.” Timpe said of combat. “You don’t hear that. All you’re worried about is if they drop a bomb. There’s a lot of action. A lot going on.”

While on board, Timpe served in C&R — or construction and repair — when he wasn’t in battle or hanging out with his friends playing cards and drinking 190 proof “torpedo juice” mixed with soft drinks.

Timpe has a slew of stories about what he and his friends did while on board, including the first time his friend who worked in the galley initially denied the rest of the group an extra snack.

“We had just left someplace and we had turkeys — big 30, 35 pound turkeys — and they were cooking them up for a meal the next day,” he recalled.

When he asked his friend for a drumstick he was told “no” because someone would notice if a turkey was missing a drumstick.

“So we took a whole turkey, a couple gallons of milk, and three or four of us went on the fantail and we ate what we wanted and threw the rest overboard,” he said. “Nobody ever knew the difference.”

Timpe still gets together with those he served with on the USS Bataan.

Now, there is a new USS Bataan — an amphibious assault ship commissioned in 1997 — and a few years ago those who served on the original vessel in World War II were invited to the new ship for a tour.

There were two difference that stuck out to Timpe: Racial integration and women on board.

“That’s progress,” he said.
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