Klickitat County currently has eight living World War II veterans, either originally from the county or living here now:
Donald Bryan: enlisted Navy Sept. 30, 1943—assigned to USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) Escort Carrier as Gunner’s Mate. January 4, 1945, the ship was hit by a kamikaze plane that released two bombs. Ninety-two men were killed and 164 were wounded. The ship was soon sunk by a torpedo from the destroyer Burns (DD-588). Don is from Bingen and now lives in Texas with his daughter.
August Edward (Ed) Weddle: signed on to Cape Orange ship in the Merchant Marines. Enlisted in the Navy in 1945, served 22 years on USS Boxer (aircraft carrier) and USS Zelima (stores ship). Retired as a Chief Petty Officer, Store Keeper. Ed is from Goldendale and now lives in an assisted living facility in Yakima.
Harold Bickel: drafted into the Army in 1943, assigned to the 76th Infantry Division. After landing on one of the beaches in France, the Division crossed into Belgium. In December they joined in the Battle of the Bulge. His unit was instrumental in liberating several POW camps, one of which held many 82nd Airborne troops. Bickel is from Maryhill and now lives in Vancouver.
Harry Richard (Dick) Wilson: enlisted in the Navy, January, 1943. Served in Hawaii as one of two radar technicians in the command information center on the USS Satterlee (a Gleaves-class destroyer) working with crew in air-sea rescue operations between Saipan and Okinawa. Air-sea rescue operations saved many valuable trained and experienced airmen and enhanced morale of the combat aircrew. Wilson lives in Bickleton.
Hiram “Jack”Mulrony: enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at 17. Assigned to the USS Wildcat (primarily a distilling service ship providing distilled water to other ships) in the boiler compartment in the Asian-Pacific Theater. In 1946 the USS Wildcat was assigned to the Joint Task Force responsible for the repair and service of all the ships involved in Operation Crossroads, a nuclear test program. Jack lives in Goldendale.
Dr. James Yamazaki: enlisted in the Army in 1941, the week before Pearl Harbor, as a combat surgeon. He was a battalion surgeon in the 106th Infantry Division and taken prisoner by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. In 1949 he was designated the lead physician of the U.S. Atomic Bomb Medical Team assigned to Nagasaki to survey the effects of the bomb. James, now 104, lives in White Salmon.
Julius Archi Courtney: entered the Navy May 17, 1945, and was assigned to the USS Arcadia (AD 23 - destroyer tender) as a Motor Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class. The ship was then deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was responsible for training sailors of Chian Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government in the operation and maintenance of eight small naval patrol and mine vessels. Julius is from Bingen and now lives in Arlington.
Robert (BJ) Johnson: enlisted in the Navy in 1942 at the age of 16 year. He attended Mechanic school and was assigned to the USS Strong (DD 467 - a Fletcher-class destroyer).The ship arrived in the Solomon Islands in February 1943 to shoot down airplanes and sink submarines. On July 5, 1943, the ship was struck by a Japanese torpedo. The USS Chevalier, a sister destroyer, intentionally rammed the Strong’s bow to enable her to throw nets and lines to the stricken ship, removing 241 men in about seven minutes. Forty-six men were killed and many wounded. Johnson is from the Portland area and now lives in Maryhill.
Mel Johnson: no service information was available at press time; he still lives in Goldendale and was a longtime CEO of the hospital.