WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A sailor from Kansas knew he was too young to be drafted, but felt he needed to serve in WWII.
His years in the Navy put him right in the middle of the action.
Frank Shiner says he hadn’t even mentioned going to the military to his parents when he handed his father a permission slip, but without hesitation his Father signed it.
Shiner was soon off to serve.
“This is when I first went in when I first went in,” Frank Shiner said.
Once he was in the Navy, it didn’t take Shiner long to get into some hot water, by loaning a fellow sailor his identification.
His punishment was bread and water only.
“The Marines were great,” Shiner said. “They slipped us stuff, in between the bread, and they gave us the candy, and then in the evenings, they would let us smoke, you know!”
He also got in trouble for violating his curfew.
“My buddy and I didn’t get in on time, we came back 15 minutes late, and we got fined a month’s pay,” Shiner said.
A month’s pay was $78 dollars, back in those days, and despite the trouble, he found he said life on the ship was good.
“You could go into any room, any workroom and you will find someone sitting on the bench, and they were playing cards,” Shiner said.
He said they also celebrated Catholic Mass on the ship and even got to take day passes to places like the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach.
Shiner has tons of photos and one features the crew of electricians he worked with.
“Whatever got damaged in the electrical parts, I was there to do what I could to fix it,” Shiner said.
He said their job was key after the ship would take a hit.
“They had a lot of kamikazes because they were making their last attempt,” Shiner said.
He said at one time a suicidal pilot blew right through the big guns.
“We got hit with this plane, the wing was on the gun mount, and the rest of the plane had gone down alongside and exploded on the side of the ship,” Shiner said.
He said it did serious damage to the ship.
“It blew out the number one elevator, it traveled some like 600 feet in the air,” Shiner said.
He said the explosion also killed twelve fellow sailors.
“On the starboard side, there were 12 bodies lined up,” Shiner said. “I felt bad, and that’s the only time I really felt bad.”
The sailors saw so much, the USS Enterprise was the most decorated ship of WWII.
“This is the list, of all the actions, the battles that we took,” Shiner said.
The ship saw more than 20 battles.
“I have a piece of the plane with me,” Shiner said.
It’s a piece of the Japanese bomber from that fateful day.
“The wing was there, so I just took my hacksaw and cut that off,” Shiner said.
He also held on to a plank from the ship deck.
He said he is thankful to have spent those three years in the Pacific.
“I still am, only I am not enlisting anymore,” Shiner said.
He said he would do it again if his country needed him, but says at nearly 95, he’d prefer a desk job this time around.
Shiner said at one time the sailors rode a ferry boat to an island, where he met a woman selling hot dogs.
He said just a few weeks later they were in line at the courthouse waiting to get married.
He and Hilda went on to have eight children.
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