Former World War II Shipmates Invited to Join Parade
NEW YORK, NY, September 16, 2015 – Long-time Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, a World War II Navy veteran who survived attacks by both German and Japanese aircraft, will serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s America’s Parade, the New York City Veterans Day Parade, Vincent McGowan, founding president of the United War Veterans Council (UWVC), producers of the parade, announced today.
The U.S. Navy is the featured service for the 2015 America’s Parade, the largest celebration of service in the nation. More than 25,000 veterans will march up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on November 11, starting at 11:11 a.m.
Morgenthau has a distinguished public service career. After serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) for eight and a half years by appointment of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Morgenthau was elected nine times as Manhattan District Attorney from 1975 through 2009.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1940. Because he was under 21, he needed permission from his father, Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He was executive officer and navigator on the USS Lansdale (DD-426), a destroyer, when it was sunk by German aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea on April 20, 1944.
After 30 days survivor’s leave, he volunteered to return to sea duty and was assigned as executive officer and navigator of the USS Harry F. Bauer (DM-26) a destroyer serving in the Pacific Ocean.
Lt. Morgenthau made the ground-breaking decision to assign four African-American steward’s mates to serve on a 20-mm anti-aircraft gun.
“My faith in the gun crew proved justified. When a kamikaze exploded above the forward stack, they remained at their posts,” Morgenthau recalled.
On April 6, 1945, while on picket station north of Okinawa, the Bauer took an aerial torpedo through the bow, but the torpedo detonated after passing through the ship. Following repairs, the ship returned to picket station.
After surviving 17 kamikaze attacks off Okinawa and shooting down several Japanese aircraft, the Bauer was hit by a kamikaze on June 6, 1945, leaving an 18-foot hole at the waterline – and an unexploded 550-pound bomb next to the forward magazine.
The Presidential Unit Citation credits the Bauer with downing 13 Japanese planes and assisted in the destruction of three others. Only 21 of the more than 500 destroyers serving in World War II were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
“In his courage under fire, his moral courage in assigning black sailors to a combat role and his extraordinary lifetime of public service, Robert Morgenthau truly represents the Greatest Generation,” said McGowan, a Marine veteran of Vietnam.
“On behalf of all our veterans, and all those who enjoy the blessings of peace and freedom because of our veterans, we thank Bob Morgenthau for his service and for agreeing to serve as Grand Marshal for the 2015 America’s Parade, the New York City Veterans Day Parade,” McGowan added.
“It is humbling to stand in the presence of Robert Morgenthau, to stand in the presence of history,” said UWVC President-elect Dan McSweeney, a Marine veteran of Iraq. “He is an inspiration to all of our veterans, especially our young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose grandparents served in WWII. “Bob Morgenthau reminds us we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
“I was just lucky,” Morgenthau says modestly. “But on behalf of my shipmates and all of our veterans, and the families of those who never came home and the families of those waiting for those serving today, I call on our fellow Americans to remember the debt of honor they owe those who serve.”
The United War Veterans Council is reaching out to those who served with Morgenthau on the Lansdale or the Bauer and their families to come to New York for the November 11 parade.
“Our city and our nation would be honored to bring these dedicated sailors together one last time,” McGowan said.
Anyone with information about a surviving crew member of the Lansdale or the Bauer is urged to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Groups and individuals interested in participating in the parade November 11 or volunteering to work on the parade are urged to call the United War Veterans Council at (212) 693-1476.
America’s Parade will be broadcast live on WPIX-TV 11, Wednesday, November 11, from noon until 3 p.m. and live-streamed on pix11.com and on military.com.
About United War Veterans Council
The United War Veterans Council, Inc. (UWVC) is a 501-(c) (19) non-profit organization that is dedicated to mobilizing the public to honor, support and serve America’s veterans through a wide range of activities and initiatives. We produce America’s Parade (the NYC Veterans Day Parade), the largest celebration of service in the nation. Since our inception, the UWVC has been a non-political, non-partisan organization, with no agenda or purpose other than serving our veterans. We represent the mosaic of the veterans’ community, encompassing veterans of all eras and backgrounds. www.uwvc.org / FB / Twitter.