Military Actions: Lima man served in Navy during WWII
LIMA, Jan 06, 2013 (The Lima News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Ira Virgil Fazel, 86, looked down as he reflected on his thoughts from his two years in the Navy during World War II.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1944, when he was just 18 years old. He grew up in Wisconsin and joined the Navy there.
"The main reason I did it is because I didn't want to get drafted into the Army and they also told me that you were never more than six miles from land, straight down," he said, laughing. "I took my boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., and from there, I went right to Coronado Strand, right across from San Diego and took amphibious training."
Fazel was a coxswain on a Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel boat, or an LCVP, popular in WWII.
He made several treks across the Pacific Ocean to Japan and the Philippines during his naval career. He said he never actually saw combat, but things weren't quiet on the ship by any means. The crew's main mission: to deliver supplies to inland Army troops.
"One time, we got into the Philippines just ahead of a typhoon and the next day, a crew ship came in there with three feet of the bow gone," Fazel said. "They got caught in it."
As a coxswain, he was in charge of the boat. He navigated, steered and cleaned it. Most of the time, he just chipped the paint and repainted the deck, he said jokingly.
"I had two crew members and a .20-caliber machine gun on both sides of me, mounted on the stern of the boat," he said.
But though he was aboard ship, he still saw the death and destruction that happened during the war in Japan.
"We had burned every island in the Pacific at different times," Fazel said. "The town we went in that time, and I can't remember the name of it, but there was nothing standing but a few chimneys. The rest of it had all been bombed out."
One of his missions included delivering supplies to troops in Okinawa, Japan, one that proved to be the most eventful.
"That was the closest we got when they were still having action," he said. "We had a blackout one night because when we were in there, they heard there was a raid coming. They had B-29s taking off at the airport there in Okinawa going right behind you and going into Japan and bombing it. But that's the closest I got to combat, which is close enough for me."
But despite his two years on the water, he said he never got sea sick.
"When I first went aboard the ship, they told me, 'Get topside when you're going out and get in the fresh air and you won't get seasick,'" he said. "And I did that and I didn't. And that was good."
When he got back from his two years of the Navy in 1946, he returned to Wisconsin, he said. Two years later, he married his wife, Sharlene, who he has remained married to for 64 years now.
"We went back to Hawaii for our 50th wedding anniversary," he said. "That was the first time she'd ever seen it and that was the first time I'd seen it since I'd been there."
The pair have four children, Dale, Mark, Deena and Virginia, and they have been living in Lima for 43 years now. He now stays active at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275 in Lima and is a life member there. He is a member of the Honor Guard there, and performs military rites at funerals.
The one thing he brought back from the war with him -- a Japanese rifle, which he gave to his youngest son, Mark.
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