Swimming sounded more fun than marching to Larry Roney, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1942.
His service took him to the South Pacific where he experienced life that was much different than the plains of Kansas.
After enlisting Larry trained to be a radioman, someone fluent in Morse code.
His job mostly kept him on the ship, but even that didn’t save him from an injury. He’d deal with the rest of his life.
Larry’s story first begins on his family’s farm in Wilson County between Fredonia and Chanute, the High Prairie.
Larry’s grandfather homesteaded the property over a 100 years ago.
The original documentation even bears the signature of the president at the time, Ulysses S. Grant.
At the time of World War II, Larry could have gotten a deferral to allow him to stay and work on his family’s farm.
But his dad refused and sent Larry to enlist in the service.
“I was so overwhelmed by it all I guess that I thought it was ok,” says Larry.
Larry Roney’s Naval ship would take troops to various invasions as well as sail island to island claiming territory for the Allies and preventing the encroachment of the Japanese.
“I was young and everything was new and I thought everything was great back then,” Larry remembers.
He says he specifically remembers the morning of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
“It was quite an experience because we woke up that morning and as far as you could see in all directions there was nothing but navy ships everywhere,” Larry explained.
While onboard Larry would have an unfortunate encounter with a five-inch powder casing, anti aircraft gun.
“These things are red hot when they come out well he missed it and hit my knee,” Larry says.
That injury sent Larry to the Naval hospital in San Diego where he was when the war ended.
It was an injury that affected him the rest of his life.
While in San Diego, Larry vividly remembers V.J. Day.
“There was a liquor store downtown San Diego and of course everyone headed to the liquor store to get something to celebrate with. They never got their doors closed and by the time they did close they had nothing left,” laughs Larry.
Larry returned home in 1945 and got married.
He met his wife before he entered the service and only saw her once during his time in the Navy.
He studied architecture at Oklahoma State University and had two sons.
Larry worked for Boeing and traveled, spending time in Egypt doing work for the Egyptian Air Force.
Larry and his wife still live here in Wichita and have been married 73 years.