space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* COUNTRY COUSIN
space
space
Sports Shorts
* WIAA GOLF
* WIAA Track & Field
* Area Softball
* Area Baseball
* Marinette Golfers Winners at Menominee/Oconto Falls Invites

space
Peshtigo Fire
space
e-Edition
Now Available
For more information
click here
dot
THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
space
dot
space

Marine Gunderson Once Survived 3 Days and Nights in Hurricane

By Vern Hollister



With Veterans Day Sunday, Nov. 11. the Nation turned to thanking men and women who served their our country. Schools held thankful remembrances, and other observances took place, including reunions among those who shared a common bond. This year marks the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps.

Eight or nine times in the past 20 or so years, Ken Gunderson, an Armstrong Creek resident and before that a resident of Goodman, travelled to St. Louis, Mo. for a reunion of crew members and families of 13 Marine Corps pilots who landed in the Pacific and survived for three days and three nights before being rescued.

At age 92 this month, Gunderson received his wings and reported for duty in the Pacific Theater. On his first mission, along with 23 other pilots in formation, he was on his way to move from one location to another in a Pacific Island chain controlled by the Japanese military. Without advance warning of weather conditions, the 24 pilots hit a tropical hurricane. Thirteen pilots landed on the 40-50 foot waves and trusted their lives to seat life rafts in which they sat. Eventually, they connected with one another while being bounced around. They tied themselves together with a section of rope made of hemp, and the pilots rode out the storm before eventually being spotted by a navy search plane.

Gunderson said he has gone to the reunion begun by a master sergeant and his family about every other year. He wished to travel to St. Louis in 2012. He asked Goodman resident Maurice Maury Casper if he’d like to go along and help drive. Casper served in the Navy from 1952-1961 on the USS Lake Champlain, an aircraft carrier.

Once he said to me, I’ve got a reunion down in St. Louis, Caspar said. Would you like to go with me? We’ll take my car, and you can help drive.

Gunderson would pay the expenses. He needed someone to help with the driving.

Two other veterans, younger, heard about the plans for the trip at the 8-HI Club in Goodman. Their reaction, according to Lenny Laabs and Mike Castelic, was Road Trip? We’ll go on a road trip.

Laabs served in the Navy out of Norfolk, Va., from 1962-1965 and Castelic was a former Army engineer. They were not only interested in the weekend trip, but they also had some concern for the the two veterans taking off from Goodman by themselves. They also thought it may be a good idea to rent a car. Castelic connected with Paul Eliason of Broadway Chevrolet in Green Bay who happened to be a Marine veteran. One serviceman to another, after hearing the story, Eliason said, We’ll give you a car to drive.

On Oct. 21, the four left with Laabs and Castelic doing the driving. When the quartet arrived at the hotel in St. Louis, each had a room and surviving members of the crews and families were present for the banquet and reunion. The hotel set up a ready room, just as if Gunderson, one of the two surviving pilots was preparing for another mission. The other survivor couldn’t make it because of health issues. Gunderson gets out almost everyday, and, according to reports, shoots a mean game of pool in a winter league that just began,.

Gunderson said that on previous reunions their stories have been taped. This year, he said a showing on a PBS station in Orange County, Calif., is scheduled, and the hope is that it will be picked up by other PBS stations.

When the 24 pilots left, they were unaware of the storm raging in their flight path. Roughly half the pilots and their planes didn’t survive the hurricane. Officially, they were lost at sea and missing in action.

They lost their planes, also, after releasing their seats, but Gunderson and the dozen others survived because of their own ability to handle the first intake of salt water and get away from the planes without being drawn underneath. Gunderson likened the survival raft to being in a baby’s bassinet. For two hours, as the were tossed about, they paddled with their hands to reach a comrade, connect, and then search for another. Sometimes they were at a wave’s crest and could look down to see another pilot. They struggled to use their lengths of hemp rope to tie them to one another.

Ocean water caused them to have the dry heaves. For three days and three nights, the 13 rode the waves, sang at times, and at other moments shot at sharks which followed them. About 5 p.m. the third day, a Navy search plane spotted the pilots. At 11 p.m. that same evening, they climbed a ladder thrown down from the deck of a destroyer to safety, put on clean pajamas, and slept in a bed that a sailor gave up for exhausted Marine pilots.

Gunderson followed this, his first mission, with over a 100 more. Nearing the age of 92 this month, he left with Laabs, described by Caspar as a bilge rat, a Navy veteran who worked with engines like those for Gunderson’s carrier. Caspar, they teased, only raised and lowered the anchor. Caspar said with a touch of pride, he could tie any knot the Navy required.

With the connection of those four at the 8-HI Club, the hardy veterans took a Road Trip to recall one of the harrowing experiences that veterans throughout the country have experienced. On Veterans Day, they are thanked for their courage and what they have done to keep this Nation free.


Recent stories, opinions and photos

Issue Date Department Headline
05-25-2016Community - Wausaukee
Goodman Legion, VFW 4 Memorial Services

05-25-2016Community - Wausaukee
Reschedule Board Review to June 18

05-25-2016Community - Wausaukee
Town Wausaukee Weekly Garbage Pickup June 2

05-25-2016Front Page
New Constable

05-25-2016Community - Wausaukee
Memorial Services at Wausaukee May 30

05-25-2016Community - Crivitz
Village of Crivitz Hosts Red, White, Music Fest

05-25-2016Front Page
Community Contributes $39,912 For Coleman School Playground

05-25-2016Community - Crivitz
Legion Trap Shoot Changed to Shaffer's

05-25-2016Front Page
Oconto County Board Hears Celebration Plans

05-25-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Memorial Day Services May 30

05-25-2016Front Page
Co. Land Info Committee To Discuss Zoning Changes

05-25-2016Community - Crivitz
Uniq Partners To Reuse Products for Oil Cleanup

05-25-2016Front Page
County Board to Hear Shoreland Zoning Plans

05-25-2016Community - Crivitz
Graduation for Crivitz Senior Class May 21

05-25-2016Community - Coleman
LCMC Rummage Sale a Success

05-25-2016Community - Coleman
CCBA To Hold Meet May 19

05-25-2016Community - Coleman
Pound Car Show Seeks Venders

05-25-2016Community - Coleman
Coleman Legion Memorial Day Program May 30th

05-25-2016Sports
WIAA GOLF

05-25-2016Sports
WIAA Track & Field

05-25-2016Sports
Area Softball

05-25-2016Sports
Area Baseball

05-25-2016Perspectives
COUNTRY COUSIN

05-25-2016Perspectives
From Our Readers

05-25-2016Perspectives
From My Window

05-25-2016Obituaries
Eleanor D. Lezotte Unsin

05-25-2016Obituaries
Elizabeth J. Wood

05-25-2016Obituaries
Charles W. Voskamp

05-25-2016Obituaries
June B. Schomaker

05-25-2016Obituaries
Kenneth D. "Spagett" Ruleau

05-25-2016Obituaries
James D. Reynen

05-25-2016Obituaries
Thomas P. Osier

05-25-2016Obituaries
Virginia Marineau

05-25-2016Obituaries
Richard Harper

05-25-2016Obituaries
Dorothy M. Dworshok

05-25-2016Obituaries
Debora K. DuPont

05-25-2016Obituaries
Stephen Batjes

05-25-2016Obituaries
Alan J. Nogalski

05-25-2016Obituaries
Edgar R. Mech

05-25-2016Obituaries
Eleanor I. Krueger

05-25-2016Obituaries
Patricia Kelm

05-25-2016Obituaries
Duane Kabacinski

05-25-2016Obituaries
Donald B. Hoerres

05-25-2016Obituaries
Janis Gaffaney

05-25-2016Obituaries
Dr. Robert J. Fischer

05-25-2016Obituaries
Ronald E. Deschaine

05-25-2016Obituaries
Russell O. Bousley Sr.

05-18-2016Sports
Marinette Golfers Winners at Menominee/Oconto Falls Invites

05-18-2016Sports
Peshtigo Boys Dominate Running Events

05-18-2016Sports
M&O Softball - Peshtigo Claims Conference, Earns Fourth Straight Title

05-18-2016Sports
M&O Baseball - Casper's Crew Adds Another Conference Crown

05-18-2016Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-18-2016Perspectives
From our readers

05-18-2016Perspectives
From My Window

05-18-2016Obituaries
Morris Whiting

05-18-2016Obituaries
David L. Teteak

05-18-2016Obituaries
Ivan Ryan

05-18-2016Obituaries
Thomas W. Robison

05-18-2016Obituaries
Tony Rabas, Jr.

05-18-2016Obituaries
Harriet M. Pearson

05-18-2016Obituaries
Richard J. Netzer

05-18-2016Obituaries
Elizabeth H. Myers

05-18-2016Obituaries
Rev. Frederick Mueller 

05-18-2016Obituaries
Verna F. Minzlaff

05-18-2016Obituaries
Arlyn C. LaFortune

05-18-2016Obituaries
Virginia E. Harner

05-18-2016Obituaries
Scott G. Grady

05-18-2016Obituaries
James A. Durocher

05-18-2016Obituaries
Deacon Jim Dennison

05-18-2016Obituaries
Alexander J. Brisko

05-18-2016Obituaries
Harriet l. Bergfelt

05-18-2016Obituaries
Dorothy A. Anderson

05-18-2016Obituaries
Virginia M. Adams

05-18-2016Obituaries
Jed C. Barley

05-18-2016Obituaries
Leigh E. Konop

05-18-2016Obituaries
Karlene and Henry Keller

05-18-2016Obituaries
David D. Kasten

05-18-2016Obituaries
Ruby E. Ivens

05-18-2016Obituaries
James J. Hanna Sr.

05-18-2016Obituaries
Babe Doney

05-18-2016Obituaries
Gladys M. Davis

05-18-2016Obituaries
Elsie V. Bair

05-18-2016Community - Wausaukee
Residents Can Join Flea Market

05-18-2016Community - Wausaukee
Grand Opening of Goodman Historical

05-18-2016Community - Wausaukee
Legion Memorial Service May 30

05-18-2016Community - Wausaukee
Red Hots Dine at Red Brick

05-18-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Sponsors Summer Food Service Program

05-18-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Rescue Squad Lists Annual Presentations

05-18-2016Community - Crivitz
Country Gospel Jam May 20th

05-18-2016Community - Crivitz
Seek Volunteers to Clean Up Park

05-18-2016Community - Coleman
Pound Car Show Seeks Venders

05-18-2016Community - Coleman
Recognition Night for Coleman Seniors

05-18-2016Community - Coleman
LCMC In Area Rummage Sale

05-18-2016Community - Coleman
Coleman Choirs Get Good Rating at Fest

05-18-2016Front Page
Officers Remembered at Law Enforcement Memorial Service

05-18-2016Front Page
Jail Only Current Option For Marinette County Mentally Ill

05-18-2016Front Page
Rededicate Town Brazeau Memorial Field May 28

05-18-2016Front Page
Miron Will Have Two Separate Jury Trials

05-18-2016Front Page
Jail Crews Help Clean Up County Roadsides

05-11-2016Obituaries
Jodyn Walters

05-11-2016Obituaries
Patricia M. Wilcox

05-11-2016Obituaries
Alan W. Vollmer III

05-11-2016Obituaries
Dorothy B. Usiak

05-11-2016Obituaries
Jacob A. Thorne

05-11-2016Obituaries
Ernest R. Schroder

05-11-2016Obituaries
Janina Sabon

05-11-2016Obituaries
Barbara E. Paulson

05-11-2016Obituaries
Francis H. Nowakowski

05-11-2016Obituaries
Sylvia Markusen

05-11-2016Obituaries
Richard T. Lowery  

05-11-2016Obituaries
Loretta L. Hanson

05-11-2016Obituaries
John D. Elliot

05-11-2016Obituaries
Marcia G. Booker

05-11-2016Obituaries
Irene M. Plewka

05-11-2016Obituaries
Ann M. Klescewski

05-11-2016Obituaries
William J. Block

05-11-2016Sports
Area Golf - Marines Finish Second at the NEC Mega Meet

05-11-2016Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-11-2016Sports
Area Track & Field - Marinette Boys Top Peshtigo Invite; Marine Girls Second

05-11-2016Perspectives
From our readers

05-11-2016Perspectives
From My Window

05-11-2016Sports
M&O Softball - Peshtigo One Step Closer to Title

05-11-2016Front Page
BAMC Breaks Ground For New $135 Million Hospital

05-11-2016Sports
M&O Baseball - Coleman Extends Conference Lead; Takes Down Wausaukee

05-11-2016Front Page
Closing Fieldhouse Pool More Expensive Than Other Options

05-11-2016Perspectives
9th Annual Ride for Homeless Vets May 21

05-11-2016Front Page
Parkinson Support Meeting May 19th

05-11-2016Front Page
Creative Flea Market Town of Peshtigo Style

05-11-2016Community - Wausaukee
Bailey Miller is Scholarship Recipient

05-11-2016Community - Wausaukee
Wagner Town Board To Meet May 11th

05-11-2016Community - Wausaukee
MI Board Meet May 12

05-11-2016Community - Crivitz
NWTC Provides Small Business Workshops

05-11-2016Community - Crivitz
Fishing Derby at Timberline June 25

05-11-2016Community - Crivitz
VFW Brat Fry May 15

05-11-2016Community - Crivitz
Stephenson Board Looks At Road Work, Building Project

05-11-2016Community - Coleman
Coleman Pound Annual Rummage Sales May 20-21

05-11-2016Community - Coleman
Coleman High School Commencement May 28

05-11-2016Community - Coleman
Coleman School Board Monthly Meet May 16

05-11-2016Community - Coleman
2 Classes at Coleman Library

05-04-2016Community - Wausaukee
Silver Cliff Fire, Rescue May 9

05-04-2016Community - Wausaukee
Change Pembine School Board Meet

05-04-2016Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane Post 66 Plans Memorial Rites

05-04-2016Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Greenhouse 5th Annual Plant Sale

05-04-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion Gun Show May 7

05-04-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz American Legion Names New Officers

05-04-2016Obituaries
Lori A. Wilson

05-04-2016Community - Crivitz
Crivitz VFW Auxiliary Current Officers Remain

05-04-2016Obituaries
Morris W. Lange, Sr. 

05-04-2016Obituaries
Roger A. Kittson, Sr.

05-04-2016Community - Crivitz
Loomis Historical Meeting is May 5


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
The Obama administration is telling all U.S. public school districts to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms "consistent with their gender identity". Do you agree?
space Yes
No
Undecided
space
TO VOTE CLICK
YES, NO or UNDECIDED

Suggest a Question
space .
space
FRONT
space
.
space
CLASSIFIEDS
space
.
space
COMMUNITY
space
.
space
GUEST BOOK
space
.
space
NEWS
space
.
space
OBITS
space
.
space
PERSPECTIVES
space
.
space
SPORTS
space
.
space
SUBSCRIBE
space
.
space
.
space
PESHTIGO FIRE
space
.
space
CUSTOM PRINTING
space
.
space
TIMES' SAVER
space
.
space
Click for Peshtigo, Wisconsin Forecast
FORECAST
space
Quick...
News or Ad Search
Enter News key words.
Enter Ad key words.



Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
Email:
News@
PeshtigoTimes.com

space
Fax: 715-582-4662
© 2000-2016
All right reserved
space
Powered by
WEB Media
Interactive
COMMUNITY
WEB sites