Last Thursday was another bright moment in my life.

Carolyn and I played host to five other World War II veterans to Gillums along with their support staff. The veterans were Floyd Coleman, Joe Kirkpatrick, Neil Parke, Leroy Murphy and Willard Foster.

Floyd and I were the oldest vets -- at 98 -- and we went to Madison High School together. Joe Kirkpatrick and I played a lot of cards back in the early 1940s with his mom and pop.

Fun times.

I knew Neil Parke and his wife, Dottie Parrish, who was the mascot for Madison High School back when myself, and her brothers, Conrad and Vernon (Peanuts), were playing in late 1930s.

I saw Leroy Murphy quite often as there was a close family connection as Carolyn's sister, Linda, is married to Leroy's son, Robert.

Wonderful family.

I did not know Willard Foster, but he was a very nice person as was his daughter, Judy.

We had a wonderful time chatting and Neil Parke got up and told some hilarious war stories.

Thanks to Register sports editor Nathan Hutchinson for helping me, as he always does. He brought Randy Rosenbaum to record the experiences of each veteran.

Thank you to Randy and Nathan for your help and support. Special thanks to my cub reporter, Carolyn, for all the correspondence and communications with the veterans and their supporting staff.

This was a short write-up of the luncheon, so I thought I would fill this article in with some scary moments in my World War II service.

Scariest moments In World War II

On our shakedown cruise to Bermuda, we were about 300 miles at sea and about 3 a.m., a general alarm sounded off on our ship.

The captain informed us we had an unidentified submarine about a mile off our starboard bow. I raced down a passageway to a hatch that came up close to my 40 mm gun.

I hit my head on a hatch and fell flat on my back on the deck, but I was so excited I didn't feel it and I got up and kept on running.

We got on our gun and there were semaphore lights blinking between our ship and the submarine.

Thankfully it was one of ours.

Wow!

What a relief.

Another scary moment was a time we were in a rough sea and I was on watch with my crew on our gun.

The ships alarm sounded off.

The captain informed me there was a fire on the fantail. He ordered me to go back and see what the fire was.

I looked back on the fantail and saw what looked like our depth charge rack on fire. That was where 10, 500-pound depth charges which were dropped off in a submarine attack, were held.

If one of them would have exploded on our ship we would all have perished.

My first instinct was self-preservation and run for the bow to get away from it.

I then calmed down a little and common sense took over. I thought "How can metal catch on fire?"

I took one of my crew and we went back toward the stern racks. What had happened was a smoke bomb had broken loose from its bomb rack and the cap had been broken loose. It was emitting smoke into the salt water that produced something akin to fire.

Wow!

We threw the tank overboard and the fire went out.

Lesson learned - don't let panic control you.

Stay calm.

Another shaky moment happened while we were in port for repairs. When you have repairs on your ship, all your ships ammunition had to be removed and put in storage until repairs were completed.

Half our crew was having lunch in the mess hall and the ship had a 4x4 hatch on the mess deck through which ammo was hoisted to the top deck and off the ship.

Well one load of explosive ammunition cleared the mess hall deck, got to the top deck and broke loose. A big box of ammo came banging through our mess hall and on two more decks to the bottom.

Ouch!

Everyone held their breath.

Wow!

We lucked out but scary moment.

Final thought

The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed. (My wife, Carolyn) -- Bennett Cerf

Until next time … live, love, laugh and learn, Glenmore

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