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Jesse Reynolds is a Navy man who served aboard several destroyers including the U.S.S. MacDonald, U.S.S. Radford and U.S.S. Haynsworth. These 1500-ton ships required a lot of manpower to keep clean and in good working order. Jesse remembers rising every day with the sun to wash, wipe and paint the ship to keep it in tip-top condition. At one point, Jesse was made a ship’s cook. He fondly recalls the very first meal he prepared on board – fried potatoes and fried chicken. Jesse also remembers the time pressure of needing to put together lunch and dinner for a ship full of hungry men. In all, Jesse served 7 1/2years in the U.S. Navy.


Bill McGinnis was just 19 years old when he joined the Navy in 1944. He became a fitter on board the U.S. Hinsdale and his WWII career saw some of the fiercest combat the war had to offer. Bill’s ship was hit by a kamikaze plane carrying several bombs but, following repairs in New Jersey, was able to make its way to the Pacific where Bill and fellow crewmates served as a support ship in the February 1945 battle for Iwo Jima. The Hinsdale anchored at a safe distance from shore to unload valuable cargo and take on wounded soldiers. Bill himself took part in rescuing three wounded soldiers from the beach of Iwo Jima risking enemy fire and a sinking transport vessel to get the men to safety. Bill also served his country in the Korean War and was recognized on one of Missouri’s recent veteran Honor Flights.


Marvin Critten is a Jamesport, MO native who did his basic training at Camp Crower. Following a speedy three months of induction into Army life, Marvin went to Iceland for a 12-month stint. From there he traveled to England where he helped develop the Army Air Corps Glider Squad. Marvin participated in the protracted Battle of the Bulge before being sent back to England and resuming duties with the Glider Squad. His next action was to be dropped behind German lines where he crashed his glider near the Rhine River. He and the other surviving airman made their way to the Baltic but en route discovered a concentration camp. Many U.S. soldiers coming upon these camps had no idea at first what it was they were seeing.


Sam spent his two years of WWII experience almost exclusively in the South Pacific. He was attached to the 79th Combat Engineers Battalion which received honors for service during the April 1944 invasion of Dutch New Guinea and the 1945 invasion of the Philippine islands. He carries keen memories from those years. He remembers living without fresh produce or dairy for those entire two years except for the 15 days he spent on the landing support ship. He remembers well the sober days of August 6 and August 9 when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. He also remembers being present on the day that U.S. and Allied prisoners in the Philippines (some of whom had survived the Bataan death march) were released from Japanese captivity. Since his return home in 1945 Sam spent 34 years working for KCPL. He and his wife were married 52 years and raised two sons. Sam’s favorite movie? Stagecoach starring the inimitable John Wayne.


Vern Ray was just 22 years old and eager to see the world when he was assigned to the 451st Bomb Group stationed in Castellucio, Italy. The aim of the Italian campaign was to draw Nazi forces away from advancing Allied troops making their way across Europe. It was intense. Vern was also part of the 35th Fighter Group effort to dissuade Japan’s activities in the Pacific. He was awarded the Purple Heart for taking a shot in his shoulder during a Japanese attack on the airbase. Vern’s work with airplanes means he can identify not just every model of WWII aircraft, but also their engine type and country of origin. Since the end of the war, Vern has been a sheet metal worker in Savannah, MO, enjoyed 40 plus years of marriage, had two daughters and six delightful grandchildren.


Kenneth Rucker (Kenny) served with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from November of 1967 to October 1968 and again from February 1969-1970. Kenny served aboard the U.S. Valley Forge, a landing platform helicopter (LPH) aircraft carrier named after General George Washington’s winter encampment (1777-1778). When all hands were aboard, the Valley Forge was home to 2,000 individuals. The ship was contacted when soldiers were wounded in combat and made amphibious landings to retrieve them for treatment. Kenny says that the ship worked as a floating hospital which landed in daylight and rescued soldiers under the cover of night. It was his job to disarm the wounded soldiers en route.

His second tour in Vietnam was in Deng where he put in grueling 12-hour shifts seven days a week working to establish internal security in the area. Between his tour aboard the Valley Forge and time in Deng, Kenny experienced the cost of freedom up close and personal. Upon returning from war, Kenny put his hands to work running a farm and starting several small businesses. When he had the desire to travel more, he hopped in an 18-wheeler and drove a truck cross-country. Kenny is father to three children who all live in northern Missouri. Thank you Kenny for your service!


Edna Shipley served for seven years in WWII as a Second Petty Officer in Naval Communications and Intelligence. She did so via WAVE – Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service – actually the first female branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve. Edna spent most of her time inputting data and filling out forms, but her work on shore vitally supported the work of men at sea. She worked in both Washington D.C. and in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Edna was originally from the east coast but her husband was a Missouri man. Together they had three wonderful children, one of whom followed her mother’s footsteps into naval service. Edna recalls the moment her daughter saw her naval jacket and declared that she too, would someone want to wear her own.

Edna says that following the war she returned to visit Hawaii only to find it greatly changed – much more built up and commercialized than when she had been there working as she says “in the middle of a pineapple field.” Edna Shipley was a pioneer for women serving in the military.


Roger Shores was a Navy man for a quarter century. From the naval base in San Diego, Shores shipped out to serve his first tour of duty in Vietnam from June 1966-1967. Shores served aboard the USS Midway (CV41) which twice earned awards for battle effectiveness – or Battle “E” recognition. Shores himself also earned two purple hearts by the tender age of 21. Unfortunately, Roger suffered injuries in both his legs and returned home from Vietnam in 1967.

Before long though, Shores was back at work at the Navy base in Key West, Florida helping train air squadrons and enjoying the skill and showmanship of the famous Blue Angels. Roger re-enlisted in 1977 and attained the rank of E8 or Senior Chief Petty Officer – a rank based on proven performance and demonstrated leadership. There are only nine enlisted ranks possible in the Navy. Roger Shores retired from the Navy in 1996 and worked as an elevator operator and painter before making the Cameron Veteran’s Home his residence.

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