In the 1965 World War II movie classic In Harm’s Way, the character Commander Paul Eddington, played by Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, describes the coming war in the Pacific as “a gut bustin’, mother-lovin’ Navy war.” All the men who served on ships in the Pacific theater from the start of the war at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to the end of the war in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, know just how true that statement was. One of those men was Seaman First Class Edward Collins, U.S. Navy, who joined the fray in 1943 aboard the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), a light aircraft carrier that participated in all the major Pacific War Navy campaigns in 1944 and 1945. Manning his station on the USS San Jacinto’s flight deck during everything from hurricanes to kamikaze attacks, he lived and breathed the history that has inspired generations of Americans ever since. This is his story.
Less than five years after the end of World War II, the United States again found itself at war, this time on the Korean Peninsula fighting Communist aggression. Despite 1.8 million U.S. military members serving in the theater of operations during the bloody three-year conflict, Americans know little of their service and sacrifice. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Keith Bunton, U.S. Navy, experienced the Korean War off the shores of Korea onboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CVA-9), which launched airstrikes against enemy targets during two Korean War deployments. This is Petty Officer Bunton’s story.