Twist of fate reunites men 66 years on

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In September of this year, my husband Andrew and I attended a monthly Navy League dinner meeting in Auburn. Sitting at our dinner table was a man named Luis and his daughter. While chatting during dinner, Andrew made a comment about serving aboard the USS Princeton (U.S. Naval Aircraft Carrier) when it was bombed during WWII. When the bomb struck the flight deck it traveled through to the fuel supply, leaving the carrier exploding in flames. Luis asked in disbelief, “You were serving aboard the Princeton? I was serving aboard the USS Reno when we torpedoed the Princeton.” Another gentleman sitting close by overheard the conversation. His name was John and he said he was serving aboard the USS Morrison at the same time. The USS Morrison was responsible for rescuing approximately 400 men from the burning Princeton and the surrounding waters. The USS Reno was the ship that torpedoed and sunk the USS Princeton in order to avoid it from becoming a target for other enemy bombers that might have put other American ships in danger. Andy joined the Navy at 16 years of age. Luis joined when he was 16-1/2. Now these men are in their 80s. Andy was in the Navy for almost five years and served as a member of the UDT (Underwater Demolition Team, now known as the U.S. Navy Seals). After recuperating from multiple battle wounds, Andy was medically discharged from the Mare Island Naval Hospital in March 1947. When most young men were just beginning to learn what life was really about, or perhaps trying to find dates for the prom, Andy, Luis and John were risking their lives to ensure our freedom and help shape our future. As Americans we all owe them so much. What are the chances that these veterans would all turn up sharing dinner and conversation at the same table almost 66 years after this tragic event? Reliving the memories of that fateful day of Oct. 24, 1945 where so many men lost their lives was truly a twist of fate. This is a date in history that will never be forgotten by these brave men as well as all the other men who served aboard the USS Princeton, USS Reno and USS Morrison. Many of us have forgotten what Veterans Day is really all about. It’s not just another holiday for bargain shopping at the malls. This is a day of honoring and remembering veterans and true heroes such as Andy, Luis and John. MARY M. ANDERSON, Loomis