Sunday, October 18, 2015

Uncle Clyne

The 1965 Ford truck often mentioned in this blog originally belonged to Rudy's uncle, Clyne Veal.  Clyne recently turned 95.  He's an amazing man.  He's also a WWII vet with some very remarkable war experiences.

Clyne Veal served in the Navy during World War II aboard the USS Clemmons, a destroyer which was converted to a high-speed minesweeper deployed to the waters off the coast of Okinawa.

He has been interviewed several times and there's a great article AND VIDEO at the Gainesville Times site.

Since online posts have a way of eventually disappearing and this one is already 5 years old, I am copying the article here.  Hopefully, those in the family who are archiving important family information will copy it as well.  Also - Does anyone know how to copy the video???  It's priceless.

Hall Man Escaped from Sinking Ship
By Jeff Gill
POSTED: August 15, 2010

Clyne Veal and his wife of 61 years, Lorene, recall Veal's days in the Navy during World War II from their Gwinnett County home.

BUFORD — Clyne Veal survived months in the Atlantic Theater aboard the Navy destroyer USS Emmons, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy.

After the Germans were defeated and nearly two weeks after being sent to the Pacific to fight the Japanese, Veal was caught in a desperate sea struggle and didn't think he was going to make it home.

Clyne Veal served on the USS Emmons, a Gleaves-class destroyer, named for Rear Adm. George F. Emmons.

The Emmons, converted to a high-speed minesweeper, had gone from patrolling for submarines in the Arctic Circle to clearing dangerous explosives from the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Her mission: Pave the way for assault ships as part of a looming U.S. invasion.

"Them boys didn't want their channels swept," Veal said of the Japanese military, "and they sicced the kamikaze planes on us."

There were 11 suicide planes in all.

"The boys shot down six of them and five of them hit us," Veal said, speaking at his home near the Hall-Gwinnett County line last week. "That was one time I thought I was going to die."

At one point during the attack, the ship's captain "came floating down by the side of the ship," he recalled. "I reached over and grabbed him by the hands ... then turned him around and got hold of his life jacket and pulled him up on the ship and propped him up against a bulkhead."

Assigned to fire and rescue, Veal went to the other side of the ship to tend to a crew member whose legs had been shot off.

"We started back to the first aid station with him and he died on the way (to it)," he said.

The ship eventually sunk and Veal was the next to last crew member to leave it.

"As far as I know ... we got this small ship that was operating with us to come alongside and we put what wounded guys we had left on there that hadn't been put on a lifeboat," he said.

The ship had about 260 people aboard, with about 60 killed or declared missing in action and another 75 wounded.

Veal escaped unscathed, but the memories lingered for awhile.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "I had one nightmare about (it) after I got back — I woke up fighting the battle — but I don't ever worry about."

After the attack on April 6, 1945, he was shipped back to the U.S. and was stationed for a while at an air base in California. He was discharged on Dec. 3, 1945.

The war had been over since the Japanese surrendered on Aug. 15.

Veal has no particular memories of that day.

"I believe I was on an old tanker coming back home," he said. "...It was nice to know we didn't have to fight anymore."

Clyne Veal's Navy portrait.

Veal, a Forsyth County native who grew up in Hall County, settled in the 1950s off what is now known as Sandy Hill Road, which is off Bogan Road, just south of the Hall line. Rural then, the land surrounding his home - built in 1963 - is dotted by subdivisions.

Through the years, he has farmed, tending to cattle and chickens. He worked for a time with General Motors and retired after 18 years with Georgia-Pacific.

He and his wife, Lorene, have been married 61 years.

Ten years ago, the Japanese Coast Guard discovered the USS Emmons buried at sea. Veal has a copy of a book about the ship's history and a framed black-and-white photo of the ship when it was a destroyer.

Now nearly 90 and reflecting on the 65 years since the war ended, he said, "I tell you one thing - I believe I'm awful lucky to still be around talking about it."